One of my favourite short story collections is Padrika Tarrant’s Broken Things (Salt Publishing, 2007), a book unlike any I’ve read. This year, Broken Things, was longlisted for the prestigious Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award alongside Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, Anne Enright’s Taking Pictures, Roddy Doyle’s The Deportees, Clare Wigfall’s The Loudest Sound and Nothing, and Alison MacLeod’s Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction, among others.
Kate Pullinger, George Szirtes and Tobias Hill have the following to say about Tarrant’s collection:
“Her writing combines the spirits of Jan Svankmajer, Angela Carter, and Maurice Sendak but with a pure and true originality. The reader will be spellbound, horrified, and entertained all at the same time.”
– Kate Pullinger
“There really isn’t a writer like Padrika Tarrant. Her antecedents are the Comte de Lautremont and Bruno Schultz, and the animator Jan Svankmajer. She is not a programmatic surrealist of any kind but an instinctive wanderer down knife-edges. Her writing is superby precise, her intensity of vision luminous, her perception deeply humane, tender yet terrifying. It is the nature of her understanding that is perhaps the most remarkable, yet it would be nothing without the other gifts. Her poor, crazy stuffed houses are overflowing with life, rich with spirits, miracles and creatures who, like the writing itself, shine and darken, jostle, sing and die. They are tangible furnished visions, wonderful and humbling.”
– George Szirtes
“Arresting and unsettling, earthy and unearthly, Tarrant’s brilliant miniatures invite comparison with the fictions of Angela Carter and the picture-stories of Edward Gorey or Neil Gaiman. Ultimately all comparisons fall flat, however. For all their dark echoes, Tarrant’s work is inimitably her own.”
– Tobias Hill
Read The Guardian’s Nicholas Clee on Broken Things here.
Listen to Padrika reading ‘Coffinwood’, ‘Cutpurse’ and ‘Nightmare’ here.