MICHAEL COLLINS - AUTHOR

THE BOOKS

 

 

 
The Keepers of Truth

 

 

The Keepers of Truth

Booker Prize 2000 shortlist

Impac Prize 2002 shortlist

Irish Novel of the Year 2000

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

 

The last of a manufacturing dynasty in a dying industrial town, Bill lives alone in the family mansion and works for the Truth, the moribund local paper. He yearns to write long philosophical pieces about the American dream gone sour, not the flaccid write-ups of bake-off contests demanded by the Truth. Then, old man Lawton goes missing, and suspicion fixes on his son, Ronny. Paradoxically, the specter of violent death breathes new life into the town. For Bill, a deeper and more disturbing involvement with the Lawtons ensues. The Lawton murder and the obsessions it awakes in the town come to symbolize the mood of a nation on the edge. Compulsively readable, The Keepers of Truth startles both with its insights and with Collins's powerful, incisive writing.

 
The Resurrectionists
 

PNBA Novel of The Year

NY Times Notable Book of the Year

 

The solitude of the Upper Michigan Peninsula is Michael Collins's heart of darkness in this compelling story of the unquiet dead. Almost thirty years ago, when Frank Cassidy was five, his parents burned to death in a remote Michigan town. Now Frank's uncle is dead too, shot by a mysterious stranger who lies in a coma in the local hospital. Frank, working menial jobs to support his unfaithful wife and two children, takes his family north in a series of stolen cars to dispute his cousin's claim on the family farm.

 

Once there, however, Frank also wants answers to questions about his own past: Who really set the fire that burned the family home and killed his parents? Will the stranger, who hangs between life and death, be able to shed light on long-buried secrets? As the television blares the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, news of Jim Jones, and endless sitcom reruns, simple answers -- and the promise of the American dream -- seem to recede from Frank's grasp. Brilliant and unsettling,

 

The Resurrectionists is an ironic yet chilling indictment of American culture in the seventies and a compassionate novel about a man struggling to overcome the crimes and burdens of his past.

 

Midnight in a Perfect Life

 

Winner - The Lucien Barrier Award Best Novel, France 2011

 

Karl is a troubled writer standing on the precipice of forty. After a degree of success in his early career, he is now battling with what he terms his 'opus', his legacy to the world. But his partner Lori, the main breadwinner, is also thinking about her destiny and wants a child.

 

As they embark on fertility treatment, Karl is forced to confront his deepest fear - that he will turn out to be like his father, a travelling salesman who was found dead after apparently committing murder when Karl was just thirteen.

Unbeknown to Lori, Karl has already taken loans out against their house to pay for his mother's care home, and his freelance work, ghosting for a crime writer called Perry Fennimore, has dried up.

 

As the treatment progresses, Karl feels increasingly distanced from his relationship and the safety of home, and attracted to the shadowlands of Chicago's backstreets. When Fennimore re-emerges with a proposal, Karl begins to tap this new source of creativity - but just how far will he go in his pursuit of the ultimate story?

 

 
The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton

 

Released in US as Death of a Writer in September 2006

Winner of The Breakout Novel of the Year in France 2008

Longlisted for IMPAC Award 2008

Seattle PI Top Pick 2006

People 4 Star Review

 

Death of a Writer begins as Professor E. Robert Pendleton, once a literary prodigy and now a virtual unknown, clings hopelessly to his tenured position at a Midwestern college.

 

When a campus visit from a rival author, now a superstar, tips his malaise into desperation, death seems the only remaining option. But Pendleton's suicide attempt is thwarted by a young graduate student, leaving Pendleton relegated to a wheelchair, surviving in a barely-conscious state. It is then that an unpublished novel is discovered in his basement: a brilliant, semi-autobiographical story with a gruesome child murder at its core.

 

The publication of Scream causes a storm of publicity, conferring on Pendleton the success he has always sought, when, ironically, he is no longer in a condition to appreciate it. Soon questions are asked about the novel's content: in particular about the uncanny resemblance between Pendleton's fictional crime and a real-life, unresolved local murder. How did Pendleton know the case so well? And why did he bury Scream in his basement? Enter Jon Ryder, a world-weary detective, and the hunt for the murderer is on.

 

A profound, darkly funny novel anchored by a gripping thriller, Death of a Writer explores the price of fame, the turmoil of academic life, and the precarious position of literature in American society.

 

Lost Souls

 

USA Today Editors Choice

Finalist for Irish Novel of the Year

Finalist for Great Lakes Novel of the Year

 

Lost Souls begins with a tragedy on Halloween night. Among the petty vandalism and teenagers' pranks, a local police officer discovers the gruesome evidence of what appears to be a hit-and-run accident: a three-year-old child lying dead in a pile of leaves. But as the investigation proceeds and the media's spotlight intensifies, a much more ominous story unfolds.

 

While the mayor and chief of police conspire to divert attention from the primary suspect - a local high school football hero whom they hope will take the town all the way to the state championship - it is left to the man who discovered the child's body to find the truth beneath the cover-up.

 

Emerald Underground

 

Best First Novel of the Year, France

April 1981. New York. A young Irishman, Liam is in hiding, waiting until the dreadful act in which he has had to participate becomes public knowledge, forced to keep it a secret because he is an illegal immigrant.

 

Michael Collins writes with his characteristic rawness and anger about the Irish in 80s America, as he gives the lie to the notion that they were that country's favourite sons, but also, in a novel of maturity and rare beauty, he brings a new poignancy to our understanding of the emigrant experience and the loneliness of not belonging.

 

 
The Feminists Go Swimming
 
The Feminists Go Swimming explores different aspects of the Irish character, and neatly satirises his country's current preoccupations. Feminism, alcohol, emigration and the Church - none escape the author's caustic and unforgiving eye. As always with Collins, there is humour and horror in equal measure, love and betrayal mingled with defiance and laughter. 'Michael Collins's vision is breathtakingly black and his writing so sharp you could cut yourself on it'.
 
The Life & Times of a Teaboy
 
Ambrose Feeney has seen his hopes and ambitions dashed by others' influence and his own inertia. His Limerick is an old siege city of walls, both real and psychological. As Ambrose descends into lunacy he paints a starkly sane portrait of one family's life in an Ireland unsoftened by the mists of legend. The Life and Times of a Teaboy begins with the recollection of a Christmas past and ends with the entrance of the principal character into a lunatic asylum; a crisis in personal growth that mirrors the nation's.
 
The Meat Eaters
 

New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1993

This extraordinary collection of stories heralds the arrival of a new voice in Irish fiction. Michael Collins's richly surreal style is borrowed from fact and fiction, descended from writers such as Joyce, Beckett and O'Brien, but still in the end unique. 

 

His stories are about Ireland, about the Irish as they are and as they would like to be imagined. In the title story, a young man travels to America with a suitcase full of meat. Posing as a nationalist hero the warm welcome that he expects does not materialize. The reality of life in hiding and the consequences of his deception prove enlightening but fatal.

 

The shadow of sectarian violence darkens many of the stories - in 'The Butcher's Daughter' a girl carries vengeance, quite literally, into a stronghold of the enemy. In 'The Dead', the horror of a bungled bombing blackens the page.

 

It is the splendour of the writing that lightens the darkness and the images of real people; the widow struggling for survival, the careless father, the petty philosopher, the schoolboy, the good and the corrupt, which make this a bewildering brilliant first collection.