A startling collection of stories from a debut British writer.
WINNER OF THE EDGE HILL SHORT STORY PRIZE 2016
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES/PFD YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2016
'Greengrass is undoubtedly that rare thing, a genuinely new and assured voice in prose. Her work is precise, properly moving, quirky and heartfelt' A. L. Kennedy
The twelve stories in this startling collection range over centuries and across the world.
There are stories about those who are lonely, or estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect but also of penance.
Some stories concern themselves with the present, and the mundane circumstances in which people find themselves: a woman who feels stuck in her life imagines herself in different jobs - as a lighthouse keeper in Wales, or as a guard against polar bears in a research station in the Arctic.
Some stories concern themselves with the past: a sixteenth-century alchemist and doctor, whose arrogance blinds him to people's dissatisfaction with their lives until he experiences it himself.
Finally, in the title story, a sailor gives his account - violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic - of the decline of the Great Auk.
Jessie Greengrass was born in 1982. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and London, where she now lives with her partner and child.
Greengrass is undoubtedly that rare thing, a genuinely new and assured voice in prose. Her work is precise, properly moving, quirky and heartfelt — AL Kennedy
A number of the individual story titles are fantastic, too. I must also mention that this volume has been beautifully produced and is one of the first offerings from JM Originals, a new list by John Murray . . . You'll want to keep an eye out for others in the series — Bookbag
One of the first books to come from the John Murray Originals imprint (the cover is stunning) which I want to read for the title, and title story, alone — Savidge Reads
The stories in this impressive and unusual debut collection chronicle the lives of the lonely and estranged . . . a highly original collection from a distinctive new voice in fiction — Independent on Sunday
[An] accomplished debut collection . . . She has a Mantel-esque way with metaphor, in which clarity of the image illuminates plot and theme . . . this talented writer has all the resources to break out of her comfort zone — Daily Telegraph
The stories in Jessie Greengrass' debut work would be auspicious even without its singular title . . . Greengrass's scope is ambitious, and at times self-consciously sedulous, compensated for by admirable technical skill, and an exhilarating sense of the unknown . . . The majority of the collection soars. Greengrass's language can switch from elegant and frosty to richly sensual . . . sheer range and conspicuous talent — Financial Times
A striking debut from a British writer with a distinctive philosophical imagination, a precise prose style and an interest in varieties of extinction and survival — Sunday Times
[A] striking first collection — Times Literary Supplement
A collection suffused with isolation and memory but, and critically, a collection that is wrought by a brilliant and original stylist, not something I thought I would have the pleasure of admitting anytime soon... An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, is published under a new list by John Murray (Byron's publisher), JM Originals, for fresh and distinctive writing. Whoever saved An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It from the slush pile, should be knighted in the New Year's honours list — Echo
Elegant, learned and melancholic — Telegraph
Restraint and a formal writing style, by a philosophy graduate from Cambridge University, give a tone of melancholy to this spectacularly accomplished, chilly debut collection of short stories about thwarted lives and opportunities missed. The strongest are also the most ordinary — The Economist
Highly original and beautifully controlled — Sunday Times