Seven award winning short stories from the Cinnamon Press Short Story Prize adjudicated by Adam Craig, plus five stories from French translator and author, Isabelle Llasera, make Ruins a stand-out anthology.
In her series of five stories, three of which are directly interlinked, Isabelle Llasera reflects on life in provincial France from the 1970s to the present. In the process, she comments on political and social changes overtaking the country as a whole during that period, sometimes directly, other times more metaphorically. Disturbing and thought-provoking, what she uncovers effects all of us living in the West, then and now.
In Omar Sabbagh's "Dye", the Realist tradition is transcended into a metaphorical world of philosophic debate. Charming, beguiling, vivid and very funny, the language eschews the conventional "transparent prose" with a rich, almost Baroque style that instantly transports the reader into a narrative that is too real to be real, where a conversation on whether or not to get a new hair tint is mirrored by a debate on the fundamental nature of our reality. Wonderfully audacious, this story turns trite ideas of writing about the "human condition" upside-down and presents the reader with something all too rare in contemporary media: compassionate, intelligent characters who are genuinely concerned with how we live our lives.
An accomplished and disturbing exploration of inner space, Jez Noond's "Squirrel Therapy" explores the shifting of crucial human interactions to digital and computerised systems, and the increasingly inhuman nature of our communal environments. Partly a caustic satire, the piece also has the unblinking matter-of-factness that marks the best speculative fiction. The prose is dry, gently sardonic and and culturally savvy.
Balvinder Banga's "Sita in the Forest" is a vivid and powerfully told example of the "slice of life" strand of Realism. The evocation of place and culture is accomplished and the characterisation sparingly but effectively drawn.
With further stories from Jane McLaughlin, Diana Powell, Jacqueline Haskell and Jenny Holden, this is diverse and fascinating anthology.
Isabelle Llasera's biography
Omar Sabbagh's biography