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The High Places
Winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2017
Winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2017'The judges recognised the mastery of form which is present in Fiona McFarlane's unforgettable collection of stunning short stories . . . highly varied in tone and brought the reader to characters, situations and places which were haunting in their oddity and moving in their human empathy.' Chair of judges of International Dylan Thomas Prize 2017, Professor Dai Smith CBEBy the author of The Night Guest, a collection of fourteen scintillating short stories: surprising, wise, thought-provoking and superbly wrought. Ranging in setting from Australia to Greece, England to a Pacific island, they focus on people: their hopes, fears, dreams and disappointments, and their relationships - between ill-matched friends, daughters and mothers, fathers and sons, married couples and sisters. Some are eccentric, like the widower who believes his dead wife's mechanical parrot speaks to him, or the research scientist convinced that Charles Darwin visits him on his remote island; others delude themselves, like the mistress of a married man who thinks she's freer than her married sister. All are confronted with events that make them see themselves and their lives from a fresh perspective. It is what they do as a result that is as unpredictable as life itself.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
McFarlane has a knack for bringing out the macabre . . . and shows herself as an exceptionally fine writer of the ways coercion and care entangle us * Publishers Weekly * McFarlane writes with a deceptively plain hand, and her style gives shape to the unanswered questions of how well we can ever know each other or ourselves . . . The writing is clever and skilful in spades * Kirkus Reviews * While lesser writers use similes to render descriptions more vivid, McFarlane's heighten aspects of her characters and advance her plots. -- Christopher Benfey * The New York Times Book Review * McFarlane has an intelligent and distinctive voice and she's a marvel at conjuring atmosphere. -- Helen Elliott * Sydney Morning Herald * Superb . . . It's not just that McFarlane's descriptions are beautiful prose, though they are. THE HIGH PLACES is more deliberate than that, and more intelligent. McFarlane strikes an emotional note on every page, whether it be humour or nostalgia or discomfort or joy . . . Nothing is forced and the reason I can't pick my favourite is that every one of the 13 stories is a winner. * The Saturday Paper * While the stories in THE HIGH PLACES are imaginative, playful, and intellectually sophisticated, it is no overstatement to suggest that their power resides in the authority of McFarlane's style, not just in her ideas. McFarlane's sentences fizz with imagery . . . The resultant voice is difficult to parse - highly assured, comic but kind, an effervescent admixture of fable, magic realism, and irony . . . [a] remarkable collection. * Australian Book Review * A terrific collection . . . a baker's dozen of powerful stories -- Jackie McGlone * The Herald (Glasgow) * Like a fascinating box of brightly coloured, faintly surreal toys -- Phil Baker * Sunday Times * In her distinct and unusual voice - the disconcerting tone and dry humour are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood or Valerie Martin - McFarlane examines relationships with uncomfortable clarity and insight, observing the subtext of human behaviour while acknowledging a mysterious power behind the reality we think we know. -- Imogen Lycett Green * Daily Mail * Deliciously unsettling, [McFarlane's] characters act and react in unexpected ways, taking both reader and themselves by surprise. -- Lucy Scholes * Observer * McFarlane has a gift for cutting into a story at precisely the right angle . . . Her writing is skilled; her point of view is unique. -- Kate Saunders * The Times *