From Far Around They Saw Us Burn

By Alice Jolly

The eagerly antipicated short story collection by award-winning author and playwright.

Short stories | Recently added
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An inherited aloe vera plant with an interesting history. Friendships cultivated over a lifetime fall apart in testing circumstances. What does the stranger with four fingers and yellow eyes really want?

From Far Around They Saw Us Burn is the eagerly-awaited short story collection from Alice Jolly, featuring an extraordinary range of stories including the award-winning 'Ray The Rottweiler', which won the Royal Society of Literature's V.S. Prichett Memorial Prize in 2014, and the title story which was one of the twenty stories selected for the 2021 O. Henry Prize, the most prestigious US short story award.

Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright who has written six novels, including her memoir, Dead Babies and Seaside Towns, which won the PEN/Ackerley Prize in 2016, and Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile which was the runner up for the Rathbones Folio Prize in 2019 and longlisted for the Ondaatje Prize in the same year.

Her first collection of short stories centres the lives of ordinary people and the various ways in which chance encounters and minute decisions change everything. It is compelling, arresting and at times, devasting collection - not least in the title story which was inspired by the tragic true events of the Cavan orphanage fire in 1943.

Written with an exemplary eye for detail and an intimate understanding of the complexities of human nature, Jolly's collection builds up towards the ultimate question: what is revealed of us when we peel away the surfaces, and is it enough?

Alice's writing is so precise and courageous it transforms her grief into a deeply powerful sense of hope and defiance. Rowan Pelling

Jolly's resolute determination to tell the whole, exhausting truth, however searing, emotional, unfashionable, unpalatable or savagely humorous, keeps us turning the pages, well into the night and cheering her on. Financial Times

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    Alice Jolly

    Alice Jolly is a novelist, playwright and teacher of creative writing. 


    Her historical fiction novels, 'Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile' and 'Between the Regions of Kindness' were both published by Unbound in 2018. Her memoir, ‘Dead Babies and Seaside Towns' was published by Unbound in 2015 and won the Pen / Ackerley Prize. In 2014 she was awarded the V.S.Prichett Memorial Prize by the Royal Society of Literature for one of her short stories (‘Ray The Rottweiler’).Her two earlier novels (‘What The Eye Doesn’t See’ and ‘If Only You Knew’) are both published by Simon and Schuster.


    Her articles have been published in The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday and The Independent and she has broadcast for Radio 4. Three of her plays have been professionally produced by The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Two of these plays were funded by The Arts Council. She teaches for The Arvon Foundation and on the Oxford University Master’s Degree in Creative Writing.


    Alice has lived in Warsaw and in Brussels. Her home is now in Stroud in Gloucestershire and she is married to lawyer, Stephen Kinsella.

  • From Far Around They Saw Us Burn

    We are the children of Cavan.  Do you know of that place?  It is a border town, betwixt and between, a place of cross roads - and yet strangely few pass by there.  The land around is low and sodden, a place of scrub and straggly pines, lanes and paths leading nowhere.  The damp comes up through the soles of your boots and clots in the lungs.

    The town of Cavan itself has a wide main street of many fine buildings and yet it seems the sun never shines at an angle to touch the stonework there.  Walking the main street, you pass the Central Hotel, the Farnham Arms, Fegans the Draper and Sullivans the General Store.  And then, of course, the Convent buildings and the orphanage.

    Those buildings are there and yet they are not.  For that place is never opened up, the nuns being a closed order, so though the many windows face onto the street, the glass is opaque and obscured by bars.  We orphanage girls are never seen except when we go to the cathedral for mass.  And should you ever have cause to knock, the nun who unlocks the door will keep to the side so that you may not see her, for that is the way of our world.  

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