SHORTLISTED for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, 2020
LONGLISTED for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, 2020:
"Ruby Cowling's debut collection finds a variety of dextrous and graceful ways to reshape narrative form, and the centre-piece, 'The Ground is Considerably Distorted', brings political fiction into the twenty-first century as it unfolds a parliamentary scandal in the real-time of 24-hour news."
A delicious, bold and often frightening collection from a prize-winning short story writer of enormous promise:
"Between gunshots there’s near-silence, just the waves shushing onto shore, the odd gull out by the reef. Hot air stirs the spindly pines. Cross-legged on the sand in the casuarina shade, Cara knocks a fire ant off her leg. The sun’s a grill today: there’s no cloud, no sign, yet, of the forecast tropical storm…"
A family prepares for Assessment; an au pair in the Caribbean wrestles with duty as a hurricane makes landfall; a game designer aches with bodily longing. Amidst it all, twins, heroines, mothers and rebels play out their lives under the strange grips of technology, governments, corporations and the capricious planet on which we all, in our different ways, just about manage to live.
This Paradise is a rare and beautiful collection of stories about people fleeing towards places or times or situations they hope might be better – trying to outrun their nature, to deny the undeniable. Written with an arresting eye for detail, a rich sense of compassion and a darkly comic understanding of the human psyche, the stories in this volume propose a series of haphazard questions, not least of which is: where do we run to when there’s nowhere left to run?
"No other writer of short fiction has such a firm finger on the unsteady pulse of the suppurating British body politic." – Joanna Walsh, author of Words From The World's End.
"With these stories, Ruby Cowling shows a brilliantly instinctive understanding that a story can be anything, go anywhere, and say the things you were least expecting it to say. These are stories that will tip the ground out from beneath your feet." – Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13.
"Tricksy, wry, coiled, taut, tender — Cowling’s wonderful This Paradise is a celebration of all that short stories can be, might be, and should be."– Eley Williams, author of Attrib.
Praise for This Paradise:
‘Admirably ambitious in scope, Ruby Cowling explores big themes – climate change and natural disaster, technology and survival – using strange and sometimes fantastical imagery to trace the obscure edges of human experience.’ Alice Ash, Times Literary Supplement
‘The most original short stories I’ve read in a long time … current, entertaining, and relevant. Highly recommended.’ Jimena Gorraez, Litro
‘The range of Cowling’s style and subject matter is impressive … This Paradise is a beautiful and highly original collection.’ The Spectator
‘Ruby Cowling offers a call-to-arms, an urgent encouragement to breathe complexity back into a human experience made simple. We will be recorded, we will be flattened and reduced. But we can record too.’ Jon Doyle, Review 31
‘Most stories have their ‘home’ audience. But when fiction crosses that inner ring, and survives to tell its tale, well – that’s art. And This Paradise achieves that handsomely.’
Tamim Sadikali, Open Pen
Ruby Cowling was born in Bradford and now lives in London. This Paradise is her first book. Her stories have won The White Review Prize (2014) and the London Short Story Prize (2014) among others and been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Lighthouse, The Letters Page, Unthology, and The Lonely Crowd.
This Paradise by Ruby Cowling