Joseph O’Connor’s first short story collection (plus a novella) in over twenty years, Where Have You Been? reads in one go. For November it is perfect – broodingly melancholic even in its most comedic moments.

O’Connor’s characters are as diverse as his topics – a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, a suicidal civil servant, a young Irish couple desperate to make it in the 1860s America.  One minute we are in London of 1988, arguing with some Irish Republicans at a wedding and worrying about a sister who says she has lost her legs in Paris. Another story – and we are in Dublin, another yet – in the village of Glasthule, near Dun Laoghaire.

And through all this diversity – one theme, of family and fatherhood, whether in a personal sense or maybe in a wider meaning of our relationship to our roots, to our countries, wherever they are…

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