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Lucy Caldwell, by Tom Routh

Born in Belfast in 1981, Lucy Caldwell is the award-winning author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas,  two collections of short stories: Multitudes (Faber, 2016) and Intimacies (Faber, 2021). Her most recent novel, These Days is published by Faber in March 2022.

She is also the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019).

Awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the George Devine Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Imison Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Irish Writers’ and Screenwriters’ Guild Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Award (Canada & Europe), the Edge Hill Short Story Prize Readers’ Choice Award, a Fiction Uncovered Award, a K. Blundell Trust Award and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Lucy is a former RLF Fellow, a Visiting Fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.

Her most recent novel, These Days, was published by Faber in March 2022

In 2021 she won the BBC National Short Story Award with her story “All the People Were Mean and Bad

She runs a highly in-demand course on the short story for the Faber Academy. To join the waiting list, please visit the Faber Academy website.


 

These Days

Two sisters, four nights, one city.

April, 1941. Belfast has escaped the worst of the war – so far. Over the next two months, it’s going to be destroyed from above, so that people will say, in horror, My God, Belfast is finished.

Many won’t make it through, and no one who does will remain unchanged.

Following the lives of sisters Emma and Audrey – one engaged to be married, the other in a secret relationship with another woman – as they try to survive the horrors of the four nights of bombing which were the Belfast Blitz, These Days is a timeless and heart-breaking novel about living under duress, about family, and about how we try to stay true to ourselves.

From ‘one of Ireland’s most essential writers’ (Sunday Times) comes the exquisite story of two sisters trying to survive in life and love against the backdrop of the Belfast Blitz.

(read more)

Praise for “These Days”

“[Caldwell] doesn’t describe characters: with great deftness she incarnates them on the page. There are few metaphors or similes. Empathy lights the words. t’s a Northern Ireland not often seen in novels, but Caldwell mines its bleakness for beauty.”
Joseph O’Connor, The Guardian (read full review)

“…the sumptuousness of the prose, the evocativeness of the descriptions and the fully realised characters, all of which make this a masterly achievement.”
Lara Feigel, Spectator (read full review)

“The centrepiece of the novel is, of course, in the horror of the Blitz. Caldwell is excellent at widening and narrowing her gaze, like the shutter of a camera opening and closing. Audrey’s walk across the city in the aftermath of the heaviest night of bombing gives us the widescreen view, and then short focus is provided with Caldwell’s excellent eye for the right detail: undertakers’ horses running wild through the streets; a volunteer in a market-turned-mortuary ‘chalking onto the sides of each coffin its contents’.”
John Self, The Critic (read full review)

“Caldwell’s writing, at such moments, is superlative. And it’s for her sure-footed and disturbingly intense recreation of a forgotten atrocity that These Days deserves to be read, and admired.”
Miranda Seymour, Financial Times (read full review)

“These Days is a beautiful homage to the city, its suffering and people. It is also an eloquent meditation on the transience of love and beauty, the fact that moments in time are all anyone ever has, until suddenly they stop.”
Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement (read full review)

“Caldwell has created a really beautiful novel here – an engrossing, evocative portrayal of the Belfast Blitz […] this is a beautiful, lyrical novel – a deeply moving tribute to the resilience of the Belfast people who lost and endured so much during the dark days of the Blitz.”
Jacqui Wine (read full review)

“Caldwell demonstrates a rare ability to combine the delicate with vivid depictions of total destruction. Different lives are woven together with delicacy and intelligence. Perhaps best known for her short stories, These Days shows Caldwell as a first-class novelist.”
Laura Marriott, Bookmunch (read full review)

‘A novel of enormous heart; full of luminous passages of prose, this tale of the Belfast blitz is breathtakingly good.’
ALEX PRESTON, Observer, Fiction to look out for in 2022

‘Adroit, precise storytelling, atmospheric and satisfying; These Days is a novel of real substance.’
HILARY MANTEL

‘What a visceral, powerful, authentic novel! It’s hard to believe Lucy Caldwell didn’t actually live through the Belfast Blitz, it’s so accurately depicted. I felt I was there with the bombs, the blood, the chaos, the fear, and the resilience.’
TRACY CHEVALIER


Lucy’s Top Ten Books about the Belfast Blitz


 

Selected Novels

These Days
All The Beggars Riding book cover
The Meeting Point book cover

Short Stories

Intimacies  — stories worth the wait
Intimacies
Multitudes
Being Various: New Irish Short Stories

 

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