"The Irish Martyr is a powerful, brave, and dangerous book that takes us to the borderlands where religion and geopolitics rip apart the lives of ordinary people. These are stories about torture, decapitation, rape, kidnapping, and trafficking in women and babies. Russell Working knows the dark corners of the world; he knows the personal underside of the news stories we have become all too accustomed to seeing on our TV screens. He writes straight from the heart, with a moral indignation that is palpable." —Douglas Glover, author of Elle and The Enamoured Knight
"Is there any life that Russell Working cannot imagine? In these powerful, haunting stories, he explores with singular compassion the private lives of Egyptian adolescent girls, a North Korean woman sold to a Chinese farmer, a Russian doctor whose child has been stolen—victims of every time and place. This book looks at hard truths, and they will linger in the thoughts of its readers." —Erin McGraw, author of The Good Life
"In The Irish Martyr, Russell Working bravely navigates a labyrinthine maze of politics and culture to bring us a searing look at our troubled world. Slava, the long final story in the collection, is a particularly moving account of ethnic hatred and the terrible violence it spawns. If you're not moved by this story, you should have your heart checked to make sure you still have one." —Ed Falco, author of Acid and In the Park of Culture
"Ranging over more of the world and more extreme experience than his readers are likely to know, former foreign correspondent Russell Working sets private dramas against historical events and geopolitical dilemmas. China, the Middle East, Russia, North Korea and other distant places are the settings for Working's American explorations of love, loyalty, suffering both individual and social, and change. In his tour de force, "The World in the First Year of the Wire," Working juxtaposes the cataclysms of World War I and other scenes of far-flung conflict with small-town American life in such a way that all the world's woes and weirdness seem now to set the public terms of experience, replacing earlier expectations of news about the next street over. This is Working's way of showing how public terms change what people actually do in private life. The Irish Martyr is a remarkable response to what is human everywhere." —Reginald Gibbons, author of Sweetbitter
Winner of the 2006 Sullivan Prize, The Irish Martyr is a collection of ten stories by Russell Working, an award-winning fiction writer, Chicago Tribune reporter, and former foreign correspondent. With an impressive imaginative reach, Working peoples his stories with unforgettable characters, giving flesh and bone to issues in the headlines.
Ranging widely in voice and place, these stories explore the emotional repercussions of fragile humans caught in often harsh situations beyond their control. That we respond to their pathos and humor, resignation and anger, testifies to Working's skill as a chronicler of fictive lives that all too clearly resonate with our world.