True to its name, Small Things Like These is a short read at just 112 pages (later editions adding up to 128 pages). The historical fiction novel by Irish writer Claire Keegan is one of the 13 books to be longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize, making it the shortest book to do so.
So, for those bookworms who keep on buying new books and fail to finish reading each of them, a handy read like Small Things Like These might be an easy challenge to take on! Some of the eBook editions are of a meagre 76 pages.
But despite its short length, the book tackles heavy themes like religion and the control it has over people. Set in the 1980s Ireland, the plot revolves around a hardworking coal merchant who faces his busiest season one Christmas. While doing his job, he also introspects on his past and intently observes his townsfolk and the Church, leading to new revelations.
The Booker jury describes Keegan’s writing as follows, “Claire Keegan’s tender tale of hope and quiet heroism is both a celebration of compassion and a stern rebuke of the sins committed in the name of religion.”.
Even though the shortlist is yet to be announced (on September 6), Small Things Like These has set a new record surpassing Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel Offshore which was of 132 pages. The book even won the top prize back in 1979. Other short novels include Ian McEwan’s Booker-shortlisted On Chesil Beach (166 pages) and Julian Barnes’ Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending (163 pages).
Keegan joins a diverse set of nominees this year which also includes the youngest Booker-shortlisted writer as well as the oldest one. The former is 20-year-old debutant Leila Mottley with Nightcrawling, and 87-year-old Alan Garner with Treacle Walker.