The Scattering

Jaki McCarrick
Publication Date: 
Friday, March 15, 2013
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Shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize, 2014


" amazing body of work...this book deserves tremendous success and a very wide readership." The Reading Life Blog

The Scattering is a collection of nineteen stories, many set on the Irish border, where this London-born author currently lives. These stories explore states of liminality: life on the Irish border, dual identities, emigration, being between states - certainty and doubt, codependency and freedom. Some explore themes of catastrophe and constraint. All explore what it means to be alive in a fraught and ever-changing world. This first collection from prizewinning author and playwright, Jaki McCarrick explores the dark side of human nature, often with a postmodern ‘Ulster gothic’ twist.

One of the stories ‘The Visit’ won the Wasafiri Prize for new fiction, and many have been published to much acclaim in literary magazines.

‘The Scattering’
‘Jaki McCarrick tells a chilling tale of death and despair.’ – The Irish Emigrant

‘The Sanctuary’
‘…a tender story of mourning and longing.’ –

‘Of particular note… Jacqueline McCarrick’s “The Sanctuary”; a tender portrait of a lover dealing with the death of a long-term partner. ’– Mark Brown, The Short Review

‘The Badminton Court’
‘I was totally knocked for six by this story. It is an incredible piece of writing… The spare, sinewy sentences had me going over and over them; and such economy of writing! I must, simply must see more of her work…’ – Alex Smith The Frogmore Papers

‘The Visit’
‘“The Visit” takes the reader deep into old sadnesses and lifechanging feuds which still burned under the surface of Irish
society at the time of Bill Clinton’s visit.’ – Susan Haigh, The New Short Review

‘By the Black Field’
‘My highlights to date would be: Jaki McCarrick’s “By the Black Field"... it has such an understated menace running through it and the writing is so subtly coloured, it reads like looking at a painting.” – Brian Kirk, Wordlegs

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1 week ago @ http://www.culturenort... - INTERVIEW: Jaki McCarrick · 0 replies · +1 points
Jaki McCartick is the best short story writer I've encountered in well over 20 years. I am just coming to the end of the Scattering. I do not have words to express how incredibly taken I am with this collection. The Jailbird is a masterpiece. The prose is brilliant and the funny one liners in what is essentially such a tragic tale have blown me away. For example, " Norman Bates is alive and well and living in Castlemoyne". As for the main protagonist's fantasies re modes of slaughtering his cruel, sociopathic and domineering mother - outstanding.1976 and the Congo are for me two other profoundly affecting stories.

I was weaned on Frank O' Connor, first read his short stories when I was a child of 9 or 10, and have revisited them again and again over the last few decades. Frank has always been the pinnacle to me when it comes to the short story. Jaki McCarrick is, to me, now his equal.

Thank you, Jaki. This is a collection that I will treasure.

Read the Full review here:

03/02/2014 - 09:46
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The Scattering is a great mix of short stories that certainly take us close to and beyond The Pale. The theme in The Visit, like many others in this selection, is one of the returning émigré and the age old question: should I stay or should I go? Too often this has been the Irish experience and since the latest collapse of the so called ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy it is one which is sadly being repeated. Young folk are yet again given little choice but to leave their families and travel to the other side of the world to earn an honest crust.Though with the recent revelations of secretly recorded Dublin bankers laughing and gloating over unpaid loans, it’s more ‘Celtic Leech’ than ‘Tiger’. The problem with short stories, especially really engaging ones like this collection, is that you want to read more. The third title, 1975, gives us a snapshot into the life of local small town baker, Mr McCourt, coming to terms with the tragic loss of his wife. McCarrick takes us back there in the eighth instalment, 1976; here we get a greater sense of a widower struggling to bring up three young girls and a troubled boy, which at times is painful to read. Other highlights include Blood, a brief Eastern Irish vampire story; The Congo, Quentin Tarantino meets Edna O’Brien; and Lagoon, where you may go but never to return. However, the big surprise in The Scattering is the thirteenth title, The Tribe. Although in a way it looks back at the past and what might have been, in this tale the journey starts in the future. The year is 2320 and the earth, now unable to support the population of over thirty billion, is dying. The world’s scientists unilaterally decide to reverse the process and send a man thousands of years back in time in a pod to release a deadly virus that would wipe out mankind before it ever really got started. Though once he actually meets a tribe and gets involved with one of its daughters, the man is faced with an impossible dilemma. McCarrick’s locations and characters are wonderfully diverse and we often get a touching insight into the human psyche. The prospect of her first full length novel is awaited with bated breath. Gerard O'Hare See the full review here:

14/08/2013 - 09:46
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The Scattering, written by prizewinning writer Jaki McCarrick, is built up of a collection of nineteen short stories, of which several have previously won awards.

The nineteen stories, set mostly on the Irish border, all carry this sense of a dark resonance. Some explore themes of catastrophe, death and despair, while others talk of love and longing, with them all being highly complimented by McCarrick's spare but emotive writing skills.

In the opening story, 'By the Black Field', we read about Angel and his expectant wife Jess. We learn of what is important in life and how quickly those that we know can pass. And again in 'The Scattering' we are really made to think about life itself, how we live it and how quick, again it can pass. And although some of these stiories do deal with rather gloomy thoughts of life, they are all written in such a way that the stories told are interesting to read and really do make you think.

This collection of short stories is definitely an interesting read with some of the questional topics not always being fully answered. And with many of the stories covering such dark subjects I truly found it a hard book to put down.

08/05/2013 - 10:05
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"A fine début collection containing a rich variety of stories held coherently together by timeless themes, penned by a writer of confidence and style."
Suzy Ceulan Hughes, 2013

07/05/2013 - 12:58