In White Ink by Elske Rahill
Elske Rahill’s new short story collection In White Ink has been causing ripples in the literary community and beyond.
About In White Ink:
Motherhood, nurture and violence – these are the themes of Elske Rahill’s remarkable first collection, In White Ink. Rahill brings to life the psychological and physical reality of mothering, pregnancy and childbirth in ways that few others writers have attempted. Here is a biting realism, in the relations between men and women and in the expectations and failures of their assigned roles.
Each story is illumined by moments of harsh poetry. They are carefully crafted snapshots of our condition. In the title story, an isolated young mother is locked in to a custody battle with her abusive husband; ‘Right to Reply’ shows three generations of women confronting the terrible legacy of their family’s past; in ‘Toby’, a woman obsessed with hygiene finally snaps, when she finds her home is infested with fleas. The precision of Rahill’s prose, the stoicism of her unflinching narrative gaze, reveal characters caught up in violently emotional situations.
The version of motherhood found here is painful. Yet its endurance, as nature’s greatest force, is brilliantly and compassionately rendered.
Conversation around In White Ink:
‘In Irish author Elske Rahill’s thickly concentrated debut collection, the drama is like toxic shock: an effect of, rather than a means to, some kind of far-reaching damage. Rahill’s young mothers, aging brides and grieving parents are motivated by repressed feelings that barely show on the page yet have terrible consequences. Though at first her writing can seem reminiscent of others who bring a dark twist to domesticity, such as Claire Keegan, Sarah Hall or Lucy Caldwell, Rahill’s work has a more dangerous edge to it that comes down to her focus not so much on plot as the arrangement of details. There is one story in In White Ink, the first, that relies on a vicious event at its centre for dramatic effect; the rest masterfully manage quiet bloodletting on their own.’
The Guardian, December 2017
‘The majority of the stories in Rahill’s engaging collection have this affecting impact. Bright bullets that ask readers to consider what matters in life.’
The Irish Times, October 2017
‘Elske Rahill writes with a heady, arresting voice in this 293-page collection. She scrutinises the complicated, miserable minutiae of a life, probing and exposing, providing the reader with much to think on. The writing is hard-boiled, clever and absorbing, but there is cold comfort in these stories – look elsewhere if you’re seeking happy endings. The stories are, however, undeniably worth your sorrow.’
RTE Culture, November 2017
‘Rahill’s stories will kiss you goodnight and then give you nightmares.’