The New Dubliners is a collection of true stories about the non-Irish who have made Dublin their new home (for good or just temporarily). It’s about real life in the capital – one that the reader might have lived themselves, or one that is completely different from their experiences; nonetheless, one that is always authentic and, I do hope, never clichéd.
It’s not about rain or Guinness. Nor is it about the fact that coffee here is worse than in Italy, or that tomatoes here are smaller, less juicy and not as red as tomatoes in Poland. Even though that might be true, I somehow don’t find it interesting enough to write about in a book. What it is about then is love, sex, failures and successes at work, addiction, walking along the beach, and drinking coffee on a roof terrace. It’s about life in all its glory and misery, even though this might make it sound slightly pretentious.
A taster is on the website www.thenewdubliners.com. It contains excerpts from the stories, and they have been appearing there for the last couple of months. Work on the collection started last spring, but I’d been carrying the idea in my head for quite a few years beforehand.
And why Dublin? Because I’ve lived here for the last several years, and because many amazing stories have happened here during this time. However, I feel they could have happened anywhere in the world – at least in the so called developed part of it – so I don’t think we should emphasise in any way the importance of the city with relation to these stories. They are universal enough to have happened in any other European, or even non-European, capital.
If one thinks about the most basic human needs and emotions, it’s not difficult to realise that there’s no difference between people living in Dublin, Prague, Warsaw, Paris or Ottawa. And because Dublin is so multinational, all those nationalities have an amazing opportunity to mingle here. And that’s what The New Dubliners is about.
Having said that, though, it needs to be stressed that in some of the stories the city does feature quite prominently. In most of them, however, it’s barely visible, lurking somewhere there far in the background without anyone paying any special attention to it. And it never really enters the first plan, since it’s not about the city – it’s about you and me.
There already is a great compilation of short stories about immigrants living in Ireland – The Deportees by Roddy Doyle – but Mr. Doyle is an Irishman, and so his perception must be different from mine. And mine is a perception of a guy who moved here several years ago, a guy who lived through all those things that he now writes about, and, of course, a guy whose writing feels different, because he’s not from here. That too, I think, gives the stories this extra feeling of genuineness.
And they are all real stories and nothing, apart from the names, some nationalities, as well as some names of places, has been changed. The reason a few small details have indeed been changed is obviously to protect the identity of the people portrayed in the stories. These changes, however, are so insignificant that I feel they do not compromise the authenticity of the text even in the slightest degree. After all, I believe it doesn’t make any difference if the protagonist is said to be Brazilian or Polish, but in real lie they might have been Venezuelan and Czech respectively, or if the story is set in Capel Street, but in real life it could have been South George’s Street.
And because I’m fortunate enough to have a job that gives me an opportunity to meet and get to know people from around the world – but also Irish people – and sometimes to get to know them really closely, I feel I have the credibility to sit down and document lives of new Dubliners.
Most of the stories are about my own experiences, though a few of them are about other people – people that I know, most of them my close friends. They were all, however, only written after long hours of research, many intimate conversations, as well as countless email exchanges or Facebook chats. I still think, though, that the reader will easily sense which story is mine, and which is not, as some of them are – often on purpose – almost an emotionless, reportage-like description of events, whereas some other stories are much more impassioned.
The book will be published by Literary Publishing on 14th February 2014.