Keith Ridgway is a writer who, despite being feted by critics (as well as Irish and French literary prize juries), remains stubbornly little-known. He is funny, technically brilliant and has all the qualities that should by rights whisk him to the front of the Booker Prize shortlist. Like many Irish writers, his early work seemed to channel John McGahern and kicked off with descriptions of the weather – and they were good descriptions! – but his ambition has brought him much further in recent years. As well as prize-winning short stories and a novella, he has written three novels, all wildly different. The Long Falling (1998) was described by one reviewer as ‘the Irish Crime and Punishment’, while The Parts (2003) was ‘a modern-day Ulysses’. His most recent published novel, Animals (2006), was rich and strange, and fully deserved those too-easy comparisons to Kafka and Beckett. Yet despite the boldness of his subjects and forms, his work is always human, accessible and addictive. His novel-in-progress can, I’m told, be read either as a unified whole or as individual short stories; I can’t wait.
John Self blogs at http://theasylum.wordpress.com