The women and men in Nude play out their desires and frustrations from Dublin to Paris, Delhi to Barcelona, and beyond. In these stories there are mercurial lovers, illicit affairs and mistakes that cannot be undone. And at the centre of it all is the unclothed body: in bedrooms, in art, and in and out of love.
Award-winning writer Nuala Ní Chonchúir uses her trademark sensual frankness, coupled with poetic language, to weave an intoxicating spell in these stories. If fictional worlds pivot on yearning, then the characters in these stories yearn for passion, for understanding and, sometimes, for freedom.
In the opening tale, a naive painter travels to early 1970’s Paris and meets fellow Irish artist Micheal O’Farrell; there she becomes the model for his iconic political nude ‘Madonna Irlanda’.
Elsewhere, a master art forger is infatuated with his lovingly carved alabaster sculpture of an Egyptian princess, but he eventually falls foul of the Art Squad and loses everything.
The story ‘Sloe Wine’ sees two teenage cousins begin a closer relationship with each other, while their mothers untangle the knots of their own teenage years and, in so doing, unleash a family secret.
These are lush stories of visual art, the heart and the body, in all their beauties and betrayals; there is humour and quirkiness, but beneath that is the reassurance of truth – the hallmark of all quality fiction.
‘Nakedness rather than sex is the theme of Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s Nude, nakedness and hiding linked like natural opposites, the delicacy of encounters and then the blunt proposition, the subterfuge and the revelation. Over it all is an elegant simplicity of language, a quilt of metaphor. Art and beauty are the threads that hold it together and ravel the lives of her characters. A beautiful collection of stories about beauty.’ —William Wall, author of ‘This Is The Country’
‘Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s stories in her extraordinary collection, Nude, are at once ravishingly sexual and achingly, vulnerably human. The title not only refers to the body but to the human heart. She understands both with profound delicacy and compassion, and she has a pitch-perfect narrative voice to illuminate truths that are rarely spoken.’ —Robert Olen Butler
‘Nuala Ní Chonchúir epitomises the poet/writer who uses the intensity of her poetry skills in prose to produce, in The Wind Across the Grass, sensualist microcosms of love, life and love gone astray. Here is a sharp but compassionate eye that can make us believe that these strange and wonderful characters breathe, hope and suffer....A good writer, like any good artist, should perturb and make us think. So, with this criteria, she fully deserves all accolades accorded to her.’ —Julia Bohanna
‘. . . a gifted and ambitious artist, with a delicate feel for the accuracies and narrow tolerances of the short story.’ —Mike McCormack
‘There is passion, mythology and raw human experience. Reading Nuala Ní Chonchúir, you learn that your life is reflected in what she sees. It is this quiet invading honesty of her words that makes her writing real.’ —Órfhlaith Foyle
‘Ní Chonchúir has a deft word-touch and is imaginative and resourceful with poetic ideas. [Her] work is vital and often funny and quirky, with a punchy diligence.’ —Fred Johnston
‘She is a real writer’ —Jeremy Addis
‘An affecting compendium of short stories centred on the theme of nudity and sensuality is the latest offering from Dublin-born poet and author Nuala Ni Chonchuir. The focus of these stories is not of a sexual nature; Ni Chonchuir emphasises the normality of life and, on occasion, the suggestive yearning of couples in thrall to each other, but rarely anything more daring. Her tales are complemented by varying backdrops – from the sultry heat of Barcelona to Parisian walkways – and, throughout, by fluid and descriptive prose: “The sea, the sea. It’s as huge as the sky... it’s dark like thunderclouds, as dangerous as war.” The stories featured here are generally no more than a couple of pages in length; it is a testament to Ni Chonchuir’s ability that, even allowing for such brevity, Nude is still a success.’ —Fachtna Kelly and Julian Fleming