Book type: Short Story Collection
Published: 01 Nov 2007
Winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection 2008.
Shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short story Prize.
Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Prize.
Robert Shearman’s debut collection offers a gravity-defying spectacle: a procession of perfectly weighted what-ifs floating just above the real world, self-contained hypotheticals all buoyed up by a single, infinitely variable theme: mortality. Whether questioning our deepest metaphysical assumptions about death, or playing tricks with its analogies – the death of a relationship, or the petit mort of the title – Shearman continually surprises and subverts. Alien intelligence, reincarnation, imaginary children, even conversations with Hitler’s childhood pet, are all deployed to unpack the complexity, absurdity and blessedness of seemingly ordinary people.
'This is an excellent and highly imaginative first collection of stories by a writer who is not afraid to approach the big subject, mortality...'
- The Independent on Sunday, 6 Jan 08 Read review.
'Shearman offers us haunting, nightmare alternatives to our world that are still somehow utterly recognisable as our own thanks to the way he always picks out the comically mundane among the impossible and the fantastical. The dream-like logic of them – the simple acceptance of this as the status quo, rather than some mood sapping attempt at explanation - makes each story cling to you; forces you to make sense of it and somehow inhabit it.'
– Steven Moffat
'A brilliant collection of page-turning twists and extraordinary comic understanding. With Tiny Deaths, Shearman must now rank alongside Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams, even Philip K. Dick, as an outstanding and highly original storyteller.'
– Martin Jarvis
'Corrosively funny, wistful, sharp, strange and black as a coffin lid, Rob Shearman’s collection is an addictive delight. The stories stay with you with the persistence of a witch’s familiar entwining its tail around your throat.'
– Mark Gatiss
'Far from morbid, each bizarrely comic tale has a peculiar interior logic and, although the humour is invariably gothic, it’s also clever and oddly passionate... Wistful, dream-like... strangly beautiful... Shearman applies an oddball comic whimsy that doesn’t deny the darkness of his stories, but transmutes into something that, through its oddity, becomes comprehensible.'
- The Metro, 10 Dec 07.Read review.
'Disturbing and caustic, the stories in this entertaining first collection robustly tackle their unusual subject matter.'
- The Guardian, 8 Dec 07 Read review.
'Space age Beckett.'
- The TLS, 11 Jan 08 Read review.