The Cartography of Others

By Catherine McNamara

The Cartography of Others is a collection of short stories that explores the geography of the body and the migration of the heart

Fiction | Short stories
104% funded
164 supporters

Publication date: May 2018

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Lunch with Catherine in Venice. Includes a spritz in Rialto, lunch and an afternoon walk through the calle. Plus ebook edition, 1st edition paperback, and your name in the back of the book.

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Four Day Writing Retreat in Palladio's Veneto

Four days and three nights in an Italian farmhouse filled with art. A peaceful writing environment. Home-cooked meals and local wine. Two afternoon excursions visiting nearby Arquà Petrarca, home of Petrarch, and Palladio’s Vicenza and the surrounding countryside. Plus ebook edition, 1st edition paperback, and your name in the back of the book. (£450 each if you come with a friend/partner).

Travel and restaurant meals not included, although Catherine will provide transport from airport. 4 available.

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‘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

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  • Catherine McNamara avatar

    Catherine McNamara

    Catherine McNamara grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris, and ended up in West Africa running a bar. She studied African and Asian Modern History and was a secretary in pre-war Mogadishu, and has worked as an au pair, graphic designer, photographer, translator and shoe model. Her collection Pelt and Other Stories was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Award and semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize, and her short stories have been Pushcart-nominated, shortlisted and published in the U.K., Europe, U.S.A. and Australia. Catherine lives in northern Italy and has impressive collections of West African art and Italian heels.

  • Adieu, Mon Doux Rivage


    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.

  • 27th June 2018 Where we are now

    Ciao a tutti! 

    I hope you have all received your copies and if not, please do contact Unbound via and they can help! And if you enjoy the stories and are inclined to write book reviews, I'd be grateful if you could do so on Goodreads and Amazon, or anywhere! And if there are reviewers and book bloggers among you it would be wonderful to have some more reviews out there. So far…

    15th May 2018 Publication Day !

    Praise for The Cartography of Others

    “McNamara’s work has a fierce, vital beat, her stories robust yet finely worked,

    her voice striking in its confidence and originality. She writes with

    sensuous precision and a craft that is equally precise. This is fiction that can

    stand up in any company.”

    – Hilary Mantel


    It's finally time to show off the cover - and Hilary Mantel's generous quote…

    28th February 2018 Cover Days

    Exciting times! Winter is nearly over and edits are almost complete. At the moment the cover design is in the works. Wonderful ideas have been thrown about and I’m looking forward to seeing this short story collection distilled into alluring graphic material. I’m nervous and excited at the same time, having worked in design and photography myself, and am trying not to be precious about my babes…

    3rd October 2017 The Perils of Editing


    This summer has been devoted to editing The Cartography of Others. If I have been quiet since crowdfunding was completed in June, I am sorry! In the meantime I have been working with Unbound’s efficient editing team, rearranging the stories, streamlining the texts, teasing out contrasts in voice and location, and killing off unruly adverbs and adjectives. 

    I’d like to say it’s over …

    8th June 2017 Cadence in Key of C

    Crowdfunding is over! Thanks to all of you wonderful supporters the target has been reached! Prosecco for everybody! I am absolutely thrilled and wish to thank every one of you. Family because you have been generous and supportive from afar, old friends who didn't mind the postage cost when I started to flog my book, blogger friends who leapt in from abroad, creative friends who have such large…

    5th May 2017 Advice for Mountaineers

    Firstly, thank you to pledgers large and small, this book could not happen without you! To those I have not been able to thank personally, please accept my gratitude! The Cartography of Others is at 75% now, with 125 supporters on board. I have been overwhelmed by the warmth and interest you have expressed, and sincerely hope you enjoy the stories. Thank you for sharing, paying up, reading my…

    10th April 2017 Of Unrequited Love and Invention of Sonnets

    Francesco Petrarca's 12th century house sits in the village of Arquà Petrarca, where one imagines he paced in hand-stitched leather shoes. Those who pledge for the writers' retreat at my Veneto farmhouse will be taken up here for an afternoon stroll and a visit to the Poet's frescoed, tranquil home. Perhaps a glass of local vinello.   

    In 1374 an old man died in a hilltop village in northeastern…

    8th March 2017 And So It Begins

    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…

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