Billy O’Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of four short story collections: In Exile (2008, Mercier Press), In Too Deep (2009, Mercier Press), The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind (2013, New Island Books, winner of a 2013 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award and selected as Cork’s One City, One Book for 2017), and The Boatman (2020, Jonathan Cape and Harper (U.S.A.)), as well as the novels The Dead House (2017, Brandon/O’Brien Press and 2018, Arcade/Skyhorse (USA)) and My Coney Island Baby, (2019, Jonathan Cape and Harper (U.S.A.)).
His latest novel, Life Sentences, was published by Jonathan Cape in January 2021 to much acclaim. Read more about it on the Books page.
Billy is the winner of a Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for the short story, and twice a recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Bursary Award for Literature. Among numerous other honours, his story, The Boatman, was a finalist for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award, and more than a hundred of his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in literary journals and magazines around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Agni, the Bellevue Literary Review, the Chattahoochee Review, Confrontation, the Fiddlehead, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal, the London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, Salamander, and the Saturday Evening Post.
“Billy O’Callaghan’s work is at once subtle and direct, warm and clear-eyed, and never less than beautifully written. He has a moving ability to express the hopes and fears of ‘ordinary’ people, and he knows intimately the ways of the world. He richly reserves an international reputation. This writer is the real thing.”
~ John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea
“I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault than Billy O’Callaghan. The stories in The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind are at once harrowing and uplifting, achingly sad and surpassingly beautiful. O’Callaghan is a treasure of the English language.”
~ Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Billy O’Callaghan’s new novel grips from the opening page. The stride of his sentences is long and powerful, his vision raw. A spectrum of intensities from grief to love is revealed as relationships unfold with an honesty that is utterly believable. The novel says at one point ‘writing is about seeing, and finding the right words, and about making sense of things.’ Such is Billy O’Callaghan’s enterprise – one he totally accomplishes.”
~ Bernard MacLaverty, Booker Prize-shortlisted and Irish Book Award-winning author of Grace Notes and Midwinter Break
“Atmospheric and unsettling, The Dead House takes the traditions of classic ghost stories and builds on them with a contemporary twist. A terrific read.”
~ John Boyne, New York Times–bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
“Billy O’Callaghan’s The Dead House is a perfectly constructed ghost story, an authentically disquieting tale about the old, old cruelty that lives in the land and never dies. It really did scare me.”
~ Owen King, author of Double Feature and co-author of Sleeping Beauties
“The elegant force of Billy O’Callaghan’s prose is immediate and impossible to recover from. He is one of Ireland’s finest short story writers.”
~ Simon Van Booy, Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award-winning author of Love Begins in Winter