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About this ebook

  • Originally published in an abridged version in the New Yorker, and considered a contemporary classic in Ireland and the UK where the Faber edition has sold over 120,000 copies, Claire Keegan’s now expanded and revised Davy Byrnes Prize-winning Foster will be published by Grove for the first time in the US in a beautiful small format hardcover edition.
  •  As with Small Things Like These, in Foster Keegan packs immense power into a slender novel. It was named one of The Times’ 50 best books of the 21st century and earned Keegan comparisons to William Trevor, Annie Proulx, and John Cheever.
  • Small Things Like These was an international and national bestseller, selling 50,000 copies in hardcover. It received rave reviews in The Los Angeles Times, New York Times Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, People, Associated Press, and NPR, among others, and was named a best book of the year by NPR, Chicago Public Library, and Publishers Weekly.
  • Small Things Like These has been celebrated by authors Lily King, Douglas Stuart, Hilary Mantel, and more, and was chosen by Colm Toíbín—new laureate for Irish fiction—for his first laureate book club. Keegan’s fans and peers are eager to support her new novel.
  • Small Things Like These will remain in hardcover for another publishing cycle, enabling us to give it another boost upon Foster's publication.
  • Foster will not only draw admirers of Keegan’s work, but will also attract fans of Max Porter, William Trevor, Anne Enright, Colm Toibin, and Elizabeth Strout.
  • The film adaptation of Foster, An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), has been selected as the Opening Film of this year’s Dublin International Film Festival.
  • Grove published Keegan’s debut collection, Antarctica, in 2001 to great acclaim. It was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and recipient of the prestigious Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the William Trevor Prize (awarded by Trevor), and the Martin Healy Award. It received rave reviews in Esquire, the Boston Globe, the NYTBR and the LA Times (“Reading these stories is like coming upon work of Ann Beattie or Raymond Carver at the start of their careers.") Her second collection, 2007’s Walk the Blue Fields, was published in Black Cat to a huge critical reception (see quotes in full below) and went on to win The Edge Hill Prize for the strongest collection published in The British Isles.
  • Given the great success of Small Things, we expect huge attention for this new edition of Foster.

PublisherGrove Press
Release dateNov 1, 2022

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    Book preview

    Foster - Claire Keegan



    Also by Claire Keegan






    Grove Press

    New York

    Copyright © 2010, 2022 by Claire Keegan

    Jacket design by Gretchen Mergenthaler

    Jacket illustration © Liz Myhill

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, should send inquiries to Grove Atlantic, 154 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011 or permissions@groveatlantic.com.

    First published in the United Kingdom in 2010 by Faber & Faber Limited.

    Published simultaneously in Canada

    Printed in the United States of America

    First Grove Atlantic Hardcover edition: November 2022

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is available for this title.

    ISBN 978-0-8021-6014-0

    eISBN 978-0-8021-6015-7

    Grove Press

    an imprint of Grove Atlantic

    154 West 14th Street

    New York, NY 10011

    Distributed by Publishers Group West


    For Ita Marcus

    and in memory of David Marcus


    Early on a Sunday, after first Mass in Clonegal, my father, instead of taking me home, drives deep into Wexford towards the coast where my mother’s people came from. It is a hot day, bright, with patches of shade and greenish, sudden light along the road. We pass through the village of Shillelagh where my father lost our red Shorthorn in a game of forty-five, and on past the mart in Carnew where the man who won the heifer sold her shortly afterwards. My father throws his hat on the passenger seat, winds down the window, and smokes. I shake the plaits out of my hair and lie flat on the back seat, looking up through the rear window. In places there’s a bare, blue sky. In places the blue is chalked over with clouds, but mostly it is a heady mixture of sky and trees scratched over by ESB wires across which, every now and then, small, brownish flocks of vanishing birds race.

    I wonder what it will be like, this place belonging to the Kinsellas. I see a tall woman standing over me, making me drink milk still hot from the cow. I see another, less likely version of her in an apron, pouring pancake batter onto a frying pan, asking would I like another, the way my mother sometimes does when she is in good humour. The man will be no taller than her. He will take me to town on the tractor and buy me red lemonade and crisps. Or he’ll make me clean out sheds and pick stones and pull ragweed and docks out of the fields. I see him taking what I hope will be a fifty pence piece from his pocket but it turns out to be a handkerchief. I wonder if they live in an old farmhouse or a new bungalow, whether they will have an outhouse or an indoor bathroom with a toilet and running water. I picture myself lying in a dark bedroom with other girls, saying things we won’t repeat when morning comes.

    An age, it seems, passes before the car slows and turns into a tarred, narrow lane, then a thrill as the wheels slam over the metal bars of a cattle grid. On either side, thick hedges are trimmed square. At the end of the lane there’s a long, white house with trees whose limbs are trailing the ground.

    ‘Da,’ I say. ‘The trees.’

    ‘What about ’em?’

    ‘They’re sick,’ I say.

    ‘They’re weeping willows,’ he says, and clears his throat.

    In the yard, tall, shiny panes reflect our coming. I see myself looking out from the back seat wild as a gypsy child with my hair all loose but my father, at the wheel, looks just like my father. A big, loose hound whose coat is littered with the shadows of the trees lets out a few rough, half-hearted barks, then sits on the step and looks back at the doorway where the man has come out to stand. He has a square body like the men my sisters sometimes draw, but his eyebrows are white, to match his hair. He looks nothing like my mother’s people, who are all tall with long arms, and I wonder if we have not come to the wrong house.

    ‘Dan,’ the man says, and tightens himself. ‘What way are you?’

    ‘John,’ Da says.

    They stand,

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