The Shieling

WINNER of the BBC National Short Story Award 2010.

SHORTLISTED for the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

Tree-climbing students, volunteering soldiers, island-bound recluses...

The characters in David Constantine’s remarkable new collection are united by an urge to absent themselves, to abscond from the intolerable pressures of normal life and withdraw into strange ideas, political causes, even private languages. Viewed from without, they appear sometimes absurd – like the vicar who starts conversing with the Devil when his wife leaves him – sometimes tragic – like the vision of a suicide being fished out of the River Irwell. Such is the force of Constantine’s compassion, however, we cannot help but follow each character deep into their isolation. And the further we descend, through the strata of each personal history, the ever-changing landscapes that bear down upon them, the more remarkable the discovery, at very bottom, that glimmers of redemption abide; like the babbling springs uncovered in the scars of a quarry that will one day heal it with a lake, or the secret haven of the title story, offering more than physical refuge, but a safe-house for dreams.


‘Perhaps the finest of contemporary writers in this form’  The Reader 

'So good I'll be surprised if there's a better collection this year...' – The Independent

'M John Harrison is captivated by a collection of edgy, magical stories' in The Guardian
David Constantine reads his story 'Beginning', recorded for THRESHOLDS at the Arvon Foundation writers’ retreat in Totleigh Barton, 2013.


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The Cave
Wishing Well
Words to Say It

Book Details

1 Jun 2009

About the Author

More by David Constantine

The Dressing-Up Box

Much-anticipated fifth collection by decorated short story writer, previous winner of the BBC National Short Story Award and the Frank O‘Connor International Short Story Award.

The Dressing-Up Box

Paperback edition of David Constantine's acclaimed fifth collection of stories, confirming his place as one of the greatest living British short story writers and following undefended children and lost adults as they face the outside world.

Rivers of the Unspoilt World

Constantine intricately interweaves fictional characters and events with the real to create new ways of seeing and connecting our past, present, and possible futures

Tea at the Midland

The characters in David Constantine’s fourth collection are often delicately caught in moments of defiance. Constantine’s bewitching, finely-wrought stories give us permission to escape.

Under the Dam

Entering Constantine’s stories is like stepping out into a wind of words, a swarm of language. His prose is as fluid as the water that surges and swells through all his landscapes.

The Life-Writer

A new novel, written by critically acclaimed short story writer, David Constantine.

In Another Country: Selected Stories

Gathering together stories from over two decades of writing, this selection demonstrates why Constantine has been hailed as ‘perhaps the finest of contemporary writers in this form’. Featuring the story that inspired the motion picture, 45 Years.