Michelle Gallen with Crissy Van Meter
Irish writer Michelle Gallen joins us virtually from her home in Dublin, where she'll read from her new book, Big Girl, Small Town (Algonquin), which was just shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 2020 Newcomer of the Year. Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from her neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up just after the Troubles. She lives a quiet life caring for her alcoholic mother, working in the local chip shop, watching the regular customers come and go. But underneath Majella’s seemingly ordinary life are the facts that she doesn’t know where her father is and that every person in her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. When Majella’s predictable existence is upended by the death of her granny, she comes to realize there may be more to life than the gossips of Aghybogey, the pub, and the chip shop. In fact, there just may be a whole big world outside her small town.
“A darkly comic novel... Majella is a nuanced and complicated heroine, reliant on routines and largely dismissive of change. Infused with local diction, inflection, and slang, her voice envelops readers in the sounds of small-town Ireland. Fans of Sara Baume's novels and the Irish TV series Derry Girls will adore this complex, clever, and deeply moving debut novel.”--Booklist.
Michelle Gallen was born in County Tyrone in the mid 1970s and grew up during the Troubles a few miles from the border between what she was told was the "Free” State and the “United” Kingdom. Michelle Gallen will appear in conversation with Crissy Van Meter, author most recently of Creatures (Algonquin).