When I started to compile a personal anthology, I tried to find a theme to wrap my choices around. But as I worked up a few possibilities, nothing came together convincingly and I ended up including things that I thought ought to be there rather than those I really liked.

So I decided just to bring some stories together, many of them recently published, which I’ve enjoyed the most and have shown me something new and interesting. In the process, coherence of a sort emerged – first geographical, then thematic. The writers who stood out for me come from Ireland and the Balkan countries, and many of these stories deal with exile, displacement and loss of home and family. It wasn’t a theme I had looked for, but the history of those places makes it unsurprising and I doubt there is a more pertinent and affecting subject for story-telling today.

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