Beheading the Virgin Mary, and Other Stories
Enter Liam O'Donnell. In stories both humorous and harrowing, McLaughlin often focuses on this boy from the north of Ireland, living in Scotland. The zigzag structure of the book means every second story returns to Liam as he navigates growing up, away from his home town and wider family. A unique take on Ireland and Scotland, the Troubles, and religion is the result. In "big trouble," the O'Donnell "weans" stage a memorable cross between an Orange walk and a civil rights march. Bloody Sunday is later experienced as a series of phone calls. Punctuating the Liam stories are other haunting tales from McLaughlin's universe. With his keen ear and remarkable compassion, McLaughlin -- also an acclaimed translator -- is one of the brightest lights of European fiction.