The Islands (Paperback)

Six Fictions (Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize)

By William Wall

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822966265, 144pp.

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (10/13/2017)

List Price: 16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Selected by David Gates
William Wall is the first international winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize.
“Suddenly I see weeks that are like years stretch out before me. Islands are, more than anything else, places of deprivation.”
Jeannie, one of the sisters featured in The Islands, comes to this realization at the age of six or seven, as her father leaves their island home yet again to work on his latest book.

In this collection of interconnected stories, the beautiful and ravaging forces of sea and land collide with the forces of human nature, through isolation and family, love and loss, madness and revelation. The stories follow the lives of two sisters and the people who come and go in their lives, much like the tides. Dominated by the tragic loss of a third sister at a young age, their family spirals out of control. We witness three stages of the sisters’ lives, each taking place on an island—in southwest Ireland, southern England, and the Bay of Naples. Beautifully and sparsely written, the stories deeply evoke landscape and character, and are suffused with a keen eye for detail and metaphor.

About the Author

William Wall is the author of four novels, three collections of poetry, and two previous volumes of short fiction. His work has won many prizes, including the Virginia Faulkner Award, the Patrick Kavanagh Award, and the Sean O’Faolain Prize. He has been short- or longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Irish Book Awards, the Raymond Carver Prize, and the Manchester Fiction Prize, among others. His work has been translated into many languages, and he translates from Italian.

Praise For The Islands: Six Fictions (Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize)

“The Islands is evocative, moving, yet tough-minded, written with marvelous style and authority. After just the first few sentences, we trust absolutely that this writer is in control and knows what he’s doing. The narratives move expeditiously, even when they’re thick with description, and the characters’ voices are distinct and convincing. It was a pleasure to read.”
—David Gates, judge

“William Wall is a tremendous writer, and The Islands is a beautiful collection. In a noisy age of information, these stories, written with pristine elegance and suffused with a rare beauty, do what fiction does best: they uncover deeply humane, quiet moments that radiate meaning.  No one—with the exception of James Joyce and Alistair MacLeod—writes about the way the sea meets the land with the authority and knowingness of Wall. The Islands is an elegant and astonishing sequence of stories.”
—David Means