Children’s Children | Book Review
Author: Jan Carson
Publisher: Liberties Press
Great short stories have that ardent ability to illuminate candid insights into the human condition, and Jan Carson’s Children’s Children manages to achieve this special quality to a tee. Children’s Children is engrossing because of its familiarity which is at moments uneasy, raw and simply touching. It is concerned with revealing the intimate, hidden sides of ordinary people that we never see from behind closed doors but still inherently speak to us.
Charting a familiar landscape filled with familiar Northern Irish colloquialisms and customs, Children’s Children celebrates their uniqueness whilst also meditating on their generational nature. In a previous interview with CultureHUB, Jan Carson described how “Belfast is not a city. It’s a large provincial town and this is its charm.” It is clear that Belfast, its diversity of heritage, its complications but also its quaint traditions are all entwined within this distinct collection of stories.
Children’s Children has the running theme of family and relationships that unearth deeper, introspective musings throughout. Leaving unravelled, incomplete endings, Carson’s stories are frustrating through how they have no ultimate, satisfying conclusions and they leave us unsettled and still questioning. Nevertheless, this is perhaps what makes Children’s Children so fantastic – the way in which it triggers emotional engagement and meditation on life itself.