Counterfeiter. Dishwasher. Prostitute. Attorney. Sculptor. Mercenary. Elephant. Corpse. The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's latest fact-inspired fictions have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters. They cross other borders, too: those of race, law, sex and sanity. They travel for love or money ...
Counterfeiter. Dishwasher. Prostitute. Attorney. Sculptor. Mercenary. Elephant. Corpse. The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's latest fact-inspired fictions have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters. They cross other borders, too: those of race, law, sex and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress. Donoghue describes the brutal plot hatched by a slave in conjunction with his master's wife to set them both free; she draws out the difficulties of gold mining in the Yukon, even in the supposedly plentiful early days, and she takes us to an early Puritan community in Massachusetts unsettled by an invented sex scandal. Astray also includes 'The Hunt', a shocking confession of one soldier's violent betrayal during the American Revolution, which has been shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Short Story Award. Astray is a sequence of fourteen stories by the prize-winning author of Room and The Sealed Letter. These strange, true tales light up four centuries of wanderings, offering a past made up of deviations, and a surprising and moving history for restless times.
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Publishers Weekly, 2012-06-11 The stories in Donoghue's new collection all come, to varying degrees, from historical records; the author of Room, who studied 18th-century literature at Cambridge, has a gift for reading historical documents and picking out the odd, telling detail. There's the Plymouth Plantation man who accuses his neighbors of indecency, in "The Lost Seed"; the woman who gives her daughter up for adoption, then writes the Children's Aid Society demanding her return, in "The Gift"; the Tammany Hall bigwig found to be a woman, in "Daddy's Girl"; all outlines begging to be filled in. The 14 stories are all short (many too short), and by the time they've set up the circumstances and the era, they're almost done, and we're leaving characters we know as creatures of a time and place rather than individuals. When Donoghue establishes a distinct voice and person, the stories are vivid, curious, and honest: we'll remember the serial Puritan accuser and the young German soldier in revolutionary America long after we've forgotten other characters-like Jumbo the Victorian elephant and his keeper or the men who tried to hold Abraham Lincoln's body for ransom-in stories that are notable more for the historical moments they reconstruct than for the people who inhabit them. Agent: Kathleen Anderson. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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