Photographs from the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English

P1010296I loved the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English that was held 2 years ago in Little Rock, but I have to say this year’s conference was very special. I suspect the reason for this is that the organisers decided to invite twice as many authors as they did in Little Rock. There was a downside: many more panels and readings, and so also many conflicts.  It was impossible to go to all the events I wanted to go to, but I had a spectacular time. I thank everyone involved in this inspiring conference, particularly Sylvia Petter,  Dr Susan Lohafer and of course Dr. Maurice A. Lee.

I was particularly delighted to re-connect with writers I’d met in Little Rock, and to meet so many new writers and academics in the field of writing, men and women I feel are now part of my extended family. There are too many to name, but here are a few….  Adnan Mahmutovic, Lauren B. Davis, Vanessa Gebbie,Robert Olen Butler and Kelly Lee Butler,  Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Tania HershmanRebekah Clarkson, Valerie SirrThomas E. KennedyBharati Mukherjee, Velma Pollard, Nancy Fruend, Paul McVeighRhoda Greaves, , Dr Suzanne Scafe, Anna Solding and so, so many others.

The 14th International Conference on the Short Story in English will be held in Shanghai, China, 13 – 16 July 2016. See you there!

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13th International Conference on the Short Story in English

I can’t believe that it’s less than a month before the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English in Vienna, Austria. Very exciting!

The theme is “Unbraiding the Short Story”.

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This conference will bring writers of fiction in English (Irish, British, American, Canadian, Australian, Caribbean, South-African, Indian, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, etc.) and writers who have had (or will have for this event) their work translated into English together with scholars of the short story, and all will join in reading sessions, roundtable discussions and panels, including ones devoted to translation.

The 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English will also host a number of sessions, both in the more traditional format (with presentation of papers) and in other formats involving performance, dance, art, films, etc., having in mind that the form of the short story is not necessarily confined to the limits of the written page but may open up to manifold fields of expression.

You can download the program of events from the website.

On Wednesday July 16,  I’ll be reading one of my short stories, and on Thursday July 17th I’m on an extended length panel with Robert Olen Butler, Farhat Iftekharrudin and Billie Travalini. The subject of the panel is Liminality in the Threshold Story, moderated by Alice Clark from the University of Nantes.

There are a number of talks and workshops, and the guest author line-up includes Clark Blaise, Bharati Mukherjee, Tania Hershman, Vanessa Gebbie, Nuala Ní Chonchúir amongst many others, so I hope to see you there!

Of Dublin and Other Fictions – Guest Post by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Of Dublin coverI had the pleasure of meeting Nuala Ní Chonchúir last year at the 12th International Conference on the Short Story in English in Little Rock, Arkansas.

For me, meeting Nuala and listening to her reading her story, Cri de Couer (from her collection Mother America) was one of the highlights of the conference (part of the story was a song, which she sang so beautifully it brought tears to my eyes). I’d already read Nude, her collection of sensual and poetic short stories set in exotic locations – Paris, Delhi, Barcelona (what more could you ask for?) and knew she was an extraordinary writer, but it’s always a treat when the writer is as wonderful as the writing.

Nuala’s new chapbook of short-short stories (or ‘flash fiction’) Of Dublin and Other Fictions has just been published by Tower Press and she’s doing a ‘virtual tour’ this month to spread the word. I am the lucky host of stop number four, and for this stop we are publishing Fish, one of the pieces from the chapbook (and one of my favourites), and afterwards Nuala will talk a little about its genesis.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir

 When you have seen your neighbour in the raw – and he has seen you seeing him – it cannot be undone.

You looked from your box-room window down into Nicholas’s garden but you didn’t expect to see him standing on his puddled clothes, all chest-fuzz and stomach and genitals.

He stood, looking down at his shirt, jeans and boxers, then he lifted his eyes straight up to yours. Fuck. He swiped his hands together, looked at his palms and picked at them – pulling off fish-scales, you guessed.

Half an hour earlier you had driven out of your estate, down the road, past the shops and onto the roundabout. There you saw Nicholas’s lorry, on its side, spilling a sea of fish onto the tarmac. The fish were grey and doll-eyed and the road was completely blocked. Nicholas stood there among them, like a man from the Bible, with his hands outstretched. Some motorists were out of their cars, hanging around, watching. A taxi-driver shouted at Nicholas, ‘What the fuck?’, then he got back into his cab and sulked. Nicholas threw himself onto the pile of fish and wailed. Then, he got up and walked away.

You followed him in your car, off the roundabout, past the shops, up the road and into your estate, keeping to a near-impossible 20 km per hour. Nicholas opened his front door and slammed it hard behind him. Slipping up your own stairs, you went into the box-room and looked down into his garden. He had already stripped and you were full-frame in the window; his head lifted and you couldn’t move. You saw his naked body and what 53 years had made of it. And he saw you seeing him.

So, you slipped your dress over your head, unhooked your bra and wiggled out of your knickers. And then Nicholas saw what 47 years had made of you – your skin, breasts and belly – and none of it could be undone. So you both smiled.

(First published by TheNewerYork here:


Nuala Ní Chonchúir 2013Nuala says: Flash come to me in different ways and, normally, I find it hard to write to order. Generally my flash stories spring from a first line that swirls in my head and that line may have been prompted by something I have seen, or heard, or have been mulling over.

I wrote this piece in one go – in a sense ‘to order’. In 2011, a magazine (maybe The Stinging Fly?) was looking for people to write short-shorts on one particular day, and this was what emerged for me.

‘Fish’ is set in Rahoon in Galway, on the housing estate where I bought my first house in 1999.  Rahoon is grey and gritty, but it’s near the city centre and the sea. Anyway, not once but twice while I lived there, I saw a lorry overturned on the roundabout and both times the lorries had spilled a load of fish. So the image of fish blocking the road was wedged into my head for probably 12 years before I wrote about it.

For some reason the day I sat down to write, it was that image that sprang up and I built a very simple narrative around it. I don’t plan stories before I write them so the pair of naked neighbours just happened and seemed fitting. The story was rejected a few times before being published by the quirky and wonderful The NewerYork.


Information on how to buy Of Dublin and Other Fictions :

Find Nuala online:

Nuala Ní Chonchúir lives in Galway. Her fourth short story collection Mother America was published by New Island in 2012. A chapbook of short-short stories Of Dublin and Other Fictions is just out in the US and Nuala’s second novel The Closet of Savage Mementos will be published in spring 2014 by New Island.


Cork Short Story Festival and Other Bits and Pieces


The Cork International Short Story Festival is coming soon — 19-23 September,  2012 – with some wonderful authors giving readings and workshops: Short Stories for Beginners with Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Advanced Short Story Writing with Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Writing Flash Fiction with Tania Hershman, I plan to attend Tania’s workshop, hope to see you there!


A short story of mine, “117 Days” has been selected by Beverly Lowry as the winner of the second annual bosque Fiction Prize. The award includes a $1000 cash honorarium as well as publication in the Fall 2012 issue of bosque this November. The prize is awarded by the ABQ Writers Co-op, a creative writing community in New Mexico. Beverly Lowry is the author of six novels and several works of nonfiction. She teaches writing at George Mason University.


In addition to my volunteer work saving slow lorises, I am also fundraising to support animal rights volunteers in Bosnia, where the situation with stray and abused dogs and cats is very bad. I fundraise to help pay for food, veterinary care and medicines. If you can help or have any ideas of how to help, please go to In Memory of Vučko.

12th International Conference on the Short Story in English

From June 27 – June 30th I will be a guest writer at the 12th International Conference on the Short Story in English:  SHORT STORY TRADITIONS: BRIDGES TO MODERNITY AND BEYOND. This conference will be held in North Little Rock, Arkansas.


On Thursday 28th of June I’ll be reading one of my short stories as well as participating in a roundtable on flash fiction: FLASH FICTION: THE LITTLE STORY THAT COULD. The moderator is Sylvia Petter from the University of Vienna and the others on the roundtable will be Robert Olen Butler, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and Tania Hershman.

There are a number of other talks and workshops, and the guest author line-up includes Clark Blaise, Bharati Mukherjee, Alexander MacLeod, Molly McCloskey, Katherine Vaz and Alistair MacLeod amongst many others so I hope to see you there!