‘strongly atmospheric from the first sentence’ Hilary Mantel on ‘The Wild Beasts of the Earth Will Adore Him’ (What Lies Beneath, Kingston University Press)
A saint is crucified on the same Mediterranean island where, centuries later, a Japanese soprano recovers her lost voice. Youths throw a rock through a car windscreen in urban Accra, and a woman sees this as a sign she will never reproduce. A murderer escapes across the Sydney suburbs, bringing together an ex-swimming champion, a yoga devotee and a Chinese virgin. An insolent nephew recovers from illness to ask his wealthy aunt for accommodation for himself and his pregnant wife. In Hong Kong, a mistress awaits her married lover in a luxury hotel, and at a summer party outside Verona, a Ukrainian émigré seduces a heavily pregnant woman’s husband in his last foray into the world of hedonism. After his father’s car strikes a fox, a boy roams a French village at night, and in West Africa a young advertising executive tries to make sense of a corpse in an Elvis shirt, and an American woman who sleeps with her dogs.
The Cartography of Others is a collection of twenty stories that take place from fumy Accra to the Italian Dolomites, from suburban Sydney to high-rise Hong Kong. Lives are mapped, unpicked, crafted, overturned. Each story inhabits a location that becomes as vital as the characters themselves, men and women who are often far from home, immersed in unfamiliar cultures, estranged from those they hold dear. Love is panicked, worn, tested.
‘Catherine McNamara's stories map landmarks of psychological encounter with sensuality and finesse. Hers is an international canvas, capturing the points where contemporary lives cross with haunting detail. Beautiful work.’ Cathy Galvin, Founder and Director of The Word Factory, author of the poetry collections Black and Blue and Rough Translation
‘McNamara does things with words (most) other writers cannot. Her stories are sensual and assured. Not a writer to be ignored.’ Tom Vowler, Editor of Short Fiction, author of the short story collections The Method and Other Stories and Dazzling the Gods
‘Catherine McNamara's writing is superb, this latest collection presents a unique way to talk about displacement and sensuality.’ Eric Akoto, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Litro Magazine
‘A master of mood and atmosphere, Catherine McNamara has a keen eye for the startling image that so often holds the heart of a story – a blue tent the morning after a party, a naked woman spreading herself across a window high above Hong Kong. Her theme is desire - its ambiguities, betrayals, bruises, and joys - and this is fearless, sensuous writing. Her prose is meticulous, the stories rich with insight and empathy. Highly recommended.' Annemarie Neary, prize-winning short story writer, author of The Siren
There are four of us on the boat. Jean-Luc and myself, and Belgian music manager Raoul Vidal and his Japanese soprano wife Mieko Inoue. Raoul, big as a cupboard, stands on the deck with arms folded, squinting back at the coast. After a few days he’s discarded his shirt. When Mieko comes on deck he bends over her like a poised wave and whatever they say is soundless. Jean-Luc has read up that she sang at Covent Garden twice, but he is pretty sure her career has flatlined. Jean-Luc has a nose for these things. He was the drummer from my old band in Marseilles.
They’ve booked for a week long cruise, emailed me strict diet instructions (no gluten, no sugar or cheese, preferably grilled seafood). Looking at Raoul, I’d say he was brought up on moules frites and tankards of beer. I once toured in Belgium with an all-female group and this is the truth: they fry pigs’ blood sausages in butter. This is something that should be explained.
Raoul has picked me up a few times when I am having a quick puff at the stern. They are just small criticisms or needs. Do you have sanitary napkins? Could you chop the cabbage in the salad a little finer for Mieko’s digestion? All over his body his skin has surrendered to the sharp summer sun and it explodes in blisters wishing to be pricked. His nose is peeling and he doesn’t care, which in turn means that Mieko doesn’t either.
He asks, “Do you have any copies of The New Yorker?”
I shake my head. I imagine he is used to long lunches.
Hello and thank you for passing by here.
I'm sitting at an oval table with leaves that fold downward, many scratches, the seams between the panels have opened a little but the wood is still a living grainy thing. It's a table I bought from a man named Djugale Magala, in Nima district in Accra, maybe in 1999 or the year 2000. It was tucked away, a colonial valueless thing for this man from Burkina…
These people are helping to fund The Cartography of Others.