The False River


My first short story collection is out now from Unthank Books.

‘A bereaved mother loiters at the school gates; an old man searches through books for the secret to eternal life; a bus driver is obsessed with one of his passengers; a young woman’s happiness causes suffering for the rest of the world. In these award-winning stories the characters’ lives have ceased to flow smoothly. They have lost marriages, children, health, control, but still they try to cope. They find safety in numbers, reassurance in killing; they worship a small girl. These are stories of great traction and voltage, rich in dark humour, beauty and bravura. The False River is a collection for our splintered times.’

You can order the book here.

I talk to Tom Vowler about the collection here.

Review from The Herald:

‘The Willesden Herald Short Story Prize might not sound glitzy, but it allows Nick Holdstock’s story “Ward” (in which a teenage girl’s cancer diagnosis changes the course of her life) to be described as award-winning, which feels deserved. And judging by the quality of these stories, it won’t be his last accolade. Short story collections are often front-loaded with the best work, but The False River actually becomes more compelling as it goes along. His ease with dark and transgressive themes (animal-lovers should skip past “The Ballad of Poor Lucy Miller”) brings to mind a young Ian McEwan, but Holdstock is a multi-faceted writer who often seems to be urging his stories to break free of the frames surrounding them and even alters one character mid-story because he doesn’t like the direction it’s going. But mostly this accomplished collection is driven by a burning curiosity about the psychological states of its characters, and it should put him firmly on the literary map.’