The History of Magpies

By: Desmond Hogan


‘I’ve lived in this place for three years after returning from England. There was an echo in the landscape at night that no one had patience with, a voice trying to tell you something, trying to tell a story.’ (From ‘The ‘Metlar’)

Here are twelve scintillating fresh tales by one of Ireland’s leading writers, who has extended and redefined the tradition of the Irish short story with inimitable verbal force. Embedded in Hogan’s uniquely glancing poetic style, they form capsule character studies and micro-histories of society’s underbelly, variously located in the streets and back alleys of Edinburgh, London, Zagreb, Cork, Dublin, and in the small rural townscape provinces: Kerry to Limerick, Kinsale, Athlone and beyond, each refracted in compressed jewels of painterly prose that explodes in kaleidoscopic bursts of colour and imagery.

These stories are vividly peopled by young homosexuals, Travellers and priests, borstal boys and joyriders, prisoners on remand, hostel dwellers, drinkers and addicts, artisans and the unemployed, and treat their marginalized lives with celebratory dispassion. The story titles alone speak for their milieu: ‘The Big River,’ ‘Café Remember,’ ‘Through the Town,’ “Brimstone Butterfly,’ ’Thornback Ray,’ ‘The Spindle Tree,’ ‘The Metlar,’ ‘Walking Through Truth Land,’ and ‘Famine Rain.’ Here is a writer at the top of his game, documenting an Ireland where few have dared to tread.


Also available as an ebook

1 review for The History of Magpies

  1. Lilliput Press

    The immodest purpose of the true prose stylist is to build a cathedral in words. Clause by clause, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, the eaves are raised and the vaults are ceilinged, the pinnacles leap and the gargoyles howl, the nave is opened out. All of this must be hewn from the rough stones of the stylist’s wordhoard. Desmond Hogan in this book is writing at a very high pitch of ambition—he is trying to build the cathedral. The project is immense. – The Stinging Fly

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 216 × 316 mm


Publication Date

31 May 2017