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A girl meets with danger on the beach when she is lured away by a strange boy; a bereaved wife enlists the help of a mysterious woman to perform rituals that will bring her dead husband back to life; a boy’s anger at his absent father leads him towards an act of destruction in the basement of his school.
These are just some of the characters and events which are given life in A. J. Ashworth’s Scott Prize-winning collection Somewhere Else, or Even Here. The stories, described as ‘dark’ and ‘delicious’ by the writer Maggie Gee, explore themes of loss and loneliness, desire and hope – with characters left to navigate the shifting landscapes of their lives.
A. J. Ashworth captures, with honesty, the collisions that can happen between human beings, whether it’s a couple facing up to life after the death of a child, or lovers broken apart by infidelities either real or imagined. She explores those moments of realisation, those turning points, which will continue to resonate throughout the lives of her characters – those people who, even in small ways, will be forever changed, forever cut loose from their earlier selves.
‘A.J. Ashworth is a writer who creates worlds in a few sentences, and universes in a few pages. She explores our underlying loneliness in all its myriad guises with a steady eye and with great tenderness, whilst investing the everyday with a freshness that comes from a real gift for observation and a delight for language. The stories here really are shooting stars – ‘brilliant sparkling scratches’ against the night. A very gifted writer. One to watch without a doubt.’ —Vanessa Gebbie
‘Dark, witty, delicious stories with flashes of terror and tenderness.’ —Maggie Gee
‘With beauty, poise and fearlessness, A. J. Ashworth creates worlds that are chillingly real, exploring the raw human need for attachment and the fear of closeness in a way that is both tender and haunting. She is a fierce new talent.’ —Simon Van Booy
‘With beauty, poise and fearlessness, A. J. Ashworth creates worlds that are chillingly real, exploring the raw human need for attachment and the fear of closeness in a way that is both tender and haunting. She is a fierce new talent.’ —John Oakley