Carrying Fire and Water ~ Deirdre Shanahan


A beloved child is lost: taken too soon or never born. A woman bereaved and a man distraught are pulled apart, isolated, abandoned to search for intimacy elsewhere. A heartfelt bond is broken: a romance collapses under conflicting desires, a marriage cannot bear the burden of the unsaid. Lives dissolve, identities wither, and yet, amidst it all, there are glimmers of grace: compassion, renewal, second chances, serenity.

The stories of Deirdre Shanahan leave splinters in the conscience. In sharp, unsparing prose, and through poetic elision and insinuation, they stalk the lives of characters bewildered by moral crisis. From hospital wards to convents, from rundown farms to forests, from America to Ireland, England, Turkey, and Japan, Shanahan casts an eye over the lost souls of our world: men and women uprooted, unsettled, aimless and adrift, hungering for a way to feel less alone.

Deirdre Shanahan is a novelist and writer of short fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The Best of British Stories 2017 and won the Wasafiri International Fiction Award in 2018. Her début novel, Caravan of the Lost and Left Behind, was published by Bluemoose Books in 2019. She lives in London.

Further reading:

Read: Nine Modes of Distraction, This Is Splice

Review: Carrying Fire and Water, A Life in Books

Prompt: Think about the word ‘last’ and write down five significant moments from your own life. It might be the last day of school or university, the last time you visited your parents or the city of your birth. Expand on each of these now pick one and write freely for 10 minutes.

Leave a Reply