The inclusion of Galway-based novelist and short-story writer Mike McCormack on the Booker Prize longlist for his most recent novel, Solar Bones, has been welcomed by his many fans here and further afield.
As a young writer, Mike enjoyed success with first short-story collection, Getting It in the Head, which won the Rooney Prize for Literature in 1996. That success continued when his debut novel, Crowe’s Requiem, was published by Jonathan Cape in 1998. That powerful, dark story about love, medical research and student life set in Galway, was followed by Notes from a Coma in 2005. It divided critics and failed to sell, which led to a parting of the ways between Mike and Jonathan Cape and a period in the publishing wilderness. Mike continued to write, however, and in 2012, the Irish company Lilliput Press published his second short-story collection, Forensic Songs.
Mike’s next challenge came when he submitted the manuscript of Solar Bones to publishers.
The single-sentence novel in which the ghost of a Mayo engineer called Marcus Conway returns to his family home on All Souls’ Day to review his life and death, was regarded as too experimental for commercial success. Publishers liked it but weren’t willing to take a risk on the Mayo writer, who has lived in Galway since the 1980s.
That was until the fledgling Irish company, Tramp Press, set up in 2014, came on board and published it last year. They were McCormack fans who were willing to run with his experimentation.
The stream-of-conscious Solar Bones which explores the world of engineering and technology, as well as the creative arts and family, public health and environmental issues, proved a commercial and critical success.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.