Barcelona – Mary Costello

Barcelona by Mary Costello is a captivating short story collection from award-winning novelist exploring love, loss and the turbulent lives of ordinary people.

The stories in this collection were written over ten years. My first collection of stories, The China Factory, was published in 2012, followed by two novels, Academy Street (2014) and The River Capture (2019).

Some of these stories have their origins in places I visited, or in something someone told me. I was in Barcelona only once, at Easter. Certain street sights—the religious processions, the birds locked up in cages on the Ramblas, the market with its trays of tongues and hanging hams—disturbed me. In my title story, a young married couple are there to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. In their hotel bedroom, tensions rise when the wife recalls a shocking incident from the past and the memory of a boy she once loved.

Another story, ‘The Choc-Ice Woman’, which was published recently in The New Yorker, originated in something my mother-in-law told me. A woman she once knew had accompanied an undertaker in the hearse carrying the remains of her aunt from Dublin to Kerry. That image—a woman and an undertaker travelling together—struck me. Anything can happen when two people are enclosed together in a small space like that for a long journey.

These stories are about ordinary people—husbands and wives, fathers and sons, ex-lovers. They’re about love and loss and longing, infidelity, sexual shame. They unfold on city streets, long car journeys, and in suburban rooms where the characters approach moments of revelation about their own humanity that can change their fate—or not.  

You can pre-order Barcelona by Mary Costello here.

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