Claire Keegan

Portrait Claire Keegan
© Hartwig Klappert

Claire Keegan was born in County Wicklow, Ireland in 1968 and grew up as the youngest child in a large Catholic family in rural surroundings. At age seventeen she travelled to New Orleans where she studied English Literature and Political Theory at Loyola University. Upon returning to Ireland she began writing short stories and completed a Master’s degree in Creative Writing in Cardiff, Wales. She took a further degree from the Philosophy Faculty of Trinity College, Dublin.
Keegan was first noticed in 1998 when her short story »Storm« won the Francis McManus Award. The text is also found in her first short story collection, »Antarctica« (1999), published one year later. Since then Keegan has been considered one of the most important new voices in Irish literature, and has been compared to writers such as William Trevor and Raymond Carver. In her short stories she evokes the precariousness of everyday life, whose uniformity is endangered by potential catastrophes and within whose security an accident can always occur. Succinct and precise, Keegan creates – sometimes through an authorial voice, sometimes through the voice of a character – near novella-like sketches almost like test arrangements in which she prepares her middle class characters for a disaster in their lives, which eventually arrives, is averted or else fails to appear following an unexpected twist. The happily married Englishwoman, who feels she may have missed out and commits an infidelity; the American fisherman who discovers he has invited a murderer onto his boat; the young Irish au pair whose nightmares warn her of a danger to her protégé; or the woman who meets her lover again after a ten years gap: These are precisely formed characters and individual destinies, which – often set within religious contexts – make reference to the human condition. »The risk inherent in being alive is always present for Claire Keegan«, wrote Ingeborg Harms in the » Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«. »She is a voice reminding us that literary perception is no decadent amusement, but rather provides an elemental orientation.«
Keegan was awarded, among other distinctions, the William Trevor Award and the Rooney Prize for her literary début. She has also received several scholarships and has been a writer in residence at University College, Cork. The author teaches Creative Writing and is currently working on her first novel and another collection of tales. In 2005 she again won the McManus Award for her short story »Dark Horses«. Keegan lives in County Wexford, Ireland.

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