The characters in Dan Powell’s Scott Prize shortlisted debut collection of short stories are all a little broken. Haunted by the past, trapped in the present, and frightened of the future, these damaged souls look out upon a disquieting and treacherous world. But there remains, for some of them perhaps, a glimmer of hope.
A daughter returns home to find cracks in more than just her parents’ marriage. A middle-aged man plots to escape the clutches of his controlling mother. A woman, numbed by grief and desperately clinging to old routines, struggles to make sense of her sudden, terrible loss. A terminally ill man fights to survive long enough to let go. The staff and customers of The Teacup cafe witness a meteorological miracle that will change their lives.
Daring, intense and poignant, Looking Out of Broken Windows maps an emotional terrain both expansive and intimate and includes stories which were awarded The Yeovil Prize for Fiction and the 2013 Carve Esoteric Award, and shortlisted for both the Salt Short Story Award and The Winchester Writers Conference Short Story Prize.
‘An author drenched with talent, a fearless perceiving of life that made me grin in agreement. Looking Out of Broken Windows stacks modern gem on modern gem, the economy of words offers powerful observation, the exacting prose vibrates with energy, starkness and heart. Dan Powell’s skill is in his ability to dance with the mundane, as they twist and turn together, into an absorbing and bold collection. Parenting, love, loss, connections, personal growth, sexual deviation and exploration, this assortment of short fiction is refreshingly unflinching – it is remarkable.’ – Caroline Smailes, author of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton
‘Short stories are portholes allowing us to peek – and, with great stories, step – into other worlds. Dan Powell’s broken windows are not themselves flawed or malfunctioning, rather doorways into the fraught and fractured lives of others. Powell’s mischievous imagination takes him wherever he pleases and where it lands he weaves story so tightly, so compellingly that you are held. Not constrained by the real, Powell uses surreality and magic – a wheeling-dealing cancer, unborn twins scanning their parents-to-be, a self-starting fire – to illuminate truths with poignancy and humour, paying subtle homage to the short story masters who inspired him, from Kafka to O’Connor and Carver.’ – Tania Hershman, author of My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions
‘Like all good short fiction, Dan Powell’s stories extend at both ends – the reader is left pondering the fate of the man whose flawed attempt to enter the adult world is doomed by his sexual insecurities; we wonder what future awaits the young child who searches for her dead father. In Powell’s fictional world ordinary suburban life is made extraordinary in crisp, precise prose; the stories in Looking Out of Broken Windows are full-on and moving and this reader was both chilled and dazzled.’ – Nuala Ní Chonchúir, author of Mother America
‘Looking Out of Broken Windows is a sparkling debut by a writer with a hugely interesting mind. Its stories are wide-ranging and varied – from the heart breaking to the hilarious, the sombre and the magical, they all touch you in precisely the right places.’ – Nik Perring, author of Not So Perfect
On ‘Half-mown Lawn’:
‘An everyday subject lifted out of the mundane by the sheer quality of the writing.’ – Francine Lee, Yeovil Prize Judge
On ‘Storm in a Teacup’:
‘Brilliant. One of the most well-crafted, skilled, and creative pieces I’ve read in my lifetime.’ – Carve Editorial Team