This collection of stories, set in anonymous, small town Ireland, chronicles the problems of petty criminals and sentimental slackers. They're common problems--work, money, relationships--but Barrett anchors them with an indelible sense of place. The collection coalesces around a novella about a boxer turned drug-dealer muscle who struggles to connect with his autistic son. Although the characters are hamfisted with their emotions, Barrett has a poet's sensibility and genuine respect for the lives of his countrymen.— From Paula's Picks
March '15 Indie Next List
“The Ireland of Barrett's collection is not one of rolling emerald hills, Celtic crosses, and penny whistle jigs. This is hard-drinking, small-town Ireland with a population of young people who long for something bigger and who drink to forget that longing. Each story follows a different character and each one handles their own loneliness, claustrophobia, and nagging feeling of failure in a different way. The stories are tight, gritty, and agonizingly real. Barrett's writing is a pleasure -- lyrical and rough at the same time, shining a light on lives that few take the time to look at -- beauty in the despair of the everyday.”
— Llalan Fowler, Main Street Books, Mansfield, OH
A National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree
Winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the "Guardian" First Book Award, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature
Enter the small, rural town of Glanbeigh, a place whose fate took a downturn with the Celtic Tiger, a desolate spot where buffoonery and tension simmer and erupt, and booze-sodden boredom fills the corners of every pub and nightclub. Here, and in the towns beyond, the young live hard and wear the scars. Amongst them, there's jilted Jimmy, whose best friend Tug is the terror of the town and Jimmy's sole company in his search for the missing Clancy kid; Bat, a lovesick soul with a face like a bowl of mashed up spuds even before Nubbin Tansey's boot kicked it in; and Arm, a young and desperate criminal whose destiny is shaped when he and his partner, Dympna, fail to carry out a job. In each story, a local voice delineates the grittiness of post boom Irish society. These are unforgettable characters rendered through silence, humor, and violence.
Told in Barrett's vibrant, distinctive prose, "Young Skins" is an accomplished and irreverent debut from a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.