This Train is for
Shortlisted for the prestigious Edge Hill Short Story Prize for a single-authored collection in 2023, Bernie McGill’s award-winning stories have been widely praised for their emotional depth and their lyrical language. She is a writer of profound sensitivity and observation. Her masterful deployment of linguistic precision and economy enables her to plumb the depths of human experience while neatly avoiding sentimentalism.
This new collection, her first since 2013, contains unpublished stories along with a number of previously published stories featured within award winning anthologies. This Train is For is available to order from No Alibis Press.
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‘This Train is For portrays the complexities of the heart with sensitivity and acute psychological insight. Rendered in the most perfect prose, Bernie McGill presents lives in physical and emotional transit, uncertain of the journey’s destination, understanding that sometimes the most important moments in our lives involve travelling not forward, but to moments we thought we had left long behind.’ David Park
‘Bernie McGill is one of the most accomplished short story writers in Ireland today. These stories contain powerful truths and unsettling revelations, delivered in the gentlest voice. An absolute joy of a collection from start to finish with not a word wasted or misplaced.’ Jan Carson
‘Wonderful stories of journeys geographical and of the inner kind.’ Bernard MacLaverty
‘Bernie McGill brings her precise, lyrical, deceptively quiet style to these stories in a collection that gleams. This Train is For is the work of a decade, and it shows; each story burnished; and a book that’s a beautiful addition to No Alibis Press.’ Lucy Caldwell
‘This Train is For is a dazzling exercise in compression, and an exemplification of what the short story form can achieve.’
Neil Hegarty, Fortnight Magazine
‘Beneath the exquisite surface – at once lyrical and plain-spoken – of each of these stories is carried a great freight of feeling that McGill handles with humanity and restraint. An excellent collection from one of the finest short story writers working in Ireland today.’ Louise Kennedy
‘Derry-born Bernie McGill’s second collection of stories has been eight years in the making, and it was worth the wait. There’s a welcome wit peppering the stories… closing lines that satisfy while leaving enough open to keep the reader thinking. It’s a rare achievement that McGill makes look easy. But the best story might be the last, In the Interests of Wonder, which takes an illusionist’s visit to a school and invests it with sinister strangeness. It reminded me of Thomas Mann’s great allegory of power and credulity, Mario and the Magician, and I can offer no higher praise than that.’
John Self, Irish Times
‘Bernie McGill’s new book of short stories is a collection of quiet majesty, featuring 12 perfectly crafted stories, all exploring moments of transition in the lives of the lost and the lonely. With a compassionate skill, these stories are like arrows in flight; we do not know where they have started from, or where they will land but the journey itself is what is important.’
Cathy Brown, Dig With It Magazine
‘The past returns unbidden in Bernie McGill’s artfully unsettling This Train is For, an intricately crafted collection of unexpected journeys through time and the stations of the heart. “This is what it feels like to travel through history,” observes the narrator of the title story as he contemplates the lost Irish place names of the North. The opening tale features echoes of Brian Friel’s play Translations (1980) in its reflection on “the altered landscape of the tongue” – a central theme which McGill makes her own. For the book is a modern meditation on the inextricability of language and history in Northern Ireland, a place where the naming of things, or the not-naming of them, encodes expression with additional layers of meaning.’
Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado, Dublin Review of Books
Darkly moving and beautifully written, Bernie McGill’s debut collection of short stories explores the lives of women across the generations. From the storm-battered coastline of the north of Ireland to the sleeping villas of Andalusia, McGill’s characters grapple with the consequences of affairs, bereavement, alcoholism, illness and murder.
Compassionate and quietly powerful, McGill’s stories capture intimate moments of loss, love and healing in a troubled age.
‘McGill’s plotting is masterful. These are “killer-blow” stories but [she] carefully guards against sensationalism. Her talent for combining keen observation with a kind of symbolic import is evident. Everything is very precisely described, and yet, more unusually, there is a lyric quality to the description. McGill herself brings not only an awareness of literature, but a poetic sensibility to how she layers her short stories as a poet would layer an image – conscious that meaning is ambiguous, contradictory, polyvalent.’ Professor Tess Maginess, Queen’s University, Belfast
‘Bernie McGill has a seductive way of easing the reader in and out of a story, without the need for killer opening sentences or twist endings. Hers is the voice of an authentic storyteller who guides the reader through her fictional world with authority… I rarely read the first story in a book and immediately re-read it, nor do I finish a short story collection and turn straight back to the beginning. In the case of Bernie McGill’s Sleepwalkers, I did both.’ Safia Moore in The Incubator Journal (p.67)
‘Bursting with emotional life, whether the dark swirl of grief to the most potent sensuality… McGill’s careful control over her stories ensure the reader is carried along… her writing is all the more powerful for showing how the worst and best of life can co-exist in her short, sharp stories.’ Dr Caroline Magennis in The Irish Times
‘A writer to watch out for’ Sunday Tribune
Watch the trailer:
The Glass Shore
The Cure for Too Much Feeling
(1 October 2016)
‘The Cure for Too Much Feeling’ is anthologised in The Glass Shore, an anthology of short stories by women writers from the nine counties of Ulster, spanning three centuries. It is edited by Sinéad Gleeson and published by New Island Books, Dublin, in 2016.
Winner of Best Irish Published Book of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2016.
The Long Gaze Back
(1 September 2015)
‘A Fuss’ is anthologised in The Long Gaze Back, an anthology of short stories by Irish women writers spanning four centuries. It is edited by Sinéad Gleeson and published by New Island Books, Dublin, in 2015.
Winner of Best Irish Published Book of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2015.
The Best British Short Stories
(10 April 2011)
‘No Angel’ is included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories, is anthologised in The Best British Short Stories 2011, published April 2011 by Salt Publishing and edited by Nicholas Royle. It won second place in both the Michael McLaverty and the Seán O’Faóláin Short Story Competitions 2010, and is also published in Scandal and Other Stories (Linen Hall Library, Belfast, 2010) and in Pigs’ Feet, White Socks & Hoovers (Southword Editions, Cork, 2013).
The Winners of the Bridport Prize
(1 September 2010)
‘Home’ is included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories. It was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and published in The Winners of the Bridport Prize 2010.
(1 December 2009)
Published in Brand magazine Winter/Spring 2009.
(1 Dec 2008)
‘Sleepwalkers’ is included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories. It was first Prizewinner in the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest (US) December 2008.
First Tooth & Service Interrupted
(10 April 2006)
‘First Tooth’ is included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories. It was originally published, along with ‘Service Interrupted’ in My Story, Blackstaff Press/BBC Radio Ulster, Belfast, April 2006, edited by Pauline Currie.
The Barefoot Nuns of Barcelona
Epistle & A Still Life
(21 November 2005)
Published in The Barefoot Nuns of Barcelona & Other Short Stories, a collection of stories from the Orange Northern Woman Short Story Prize, Greer Publications, Belfast, 2005.