In the Event of Contact

In the Event of Contact : Stories

4.17 (168 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
4.17 (168 ratings by Goodreads)

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In the Event of Contact chronicles characters profoundly affected by physical connection, or its lack. Among them, a scrappy teen vies to be the next Sherlock Holmes; an immigrant daughter must defend her decision to remain childless; a guilt-ridden woman is haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend; a cantankerous crossing guard celebrates getting run over by a truck; an embattled priest with dementia determines to perform a heroic, redemptive act, if he can only remember how; and a young girl navigates crippling aversion to touch, even from her sisters.

Amidst backgrounds of trespass and absence, the indelible characters of In the Event of Contact seek renewed belief in themselves, recovery, and humanity.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 22.86mm | 249.48g
  • Westland, United States
  • English
  • 1950539261
  • 9781950539260
  • 801,483

Review quote

"These are characters who are desperate to feel, and Rohan's keen sensitivity to the many textures of longing and loss bring their exquisite stories to life." -Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed

"[Rohan's] work is imbued with the empathy of faith, with pain and heartbreak but not cynicism or despair. Her stories of hard-won resilience are welcome reading in these challenging times." -Rene Ostberg, U.S. Catholic Magazine

"In the Event of Contact is a timely read about the importance of connecting with other people on our own terms." -Evette Dionne, BITCH Magazine Selected Feminist Reads for May, 2021

"In the Event of Contact is one of 2021's must-read collections." -BUSTLE

"With In the Event of Contact, Rohan explores the literal edges of the human experience-what we desire to bring into contact with our bodies, and just as importantly, what we don't. She counts herself among the excellent women writers who continue to unflinchingly explore the realm of the body, and through this lens, infuse the short story form with a pervasive loneliness and ambient anxiety that mirror the uneasiness of our times: authors like Carmen Maria Machado, Roxane Gay, Ottessa Moshfegh, Sarah Rose Etter, Amber Sparks, and Sara Lippmann. Add Ethel Rohan's name to that list." -Joe Kapitan, The Rumpus

"Through her brilliant storytelling, Rohan explores the deep desire for human relationships, and the physical or psychological distances that affect them." -Emily Park, Booklist

"Social distancing marked the lonely horror that was this year; paradoxically a demonstration of how affection and empathy for our fellow humans required us to retreat into ourselves, connection now defined by the absence of contact. Ethel Rohan's book of short stories examines something similar in its evocation of what connection or its lack can do to us. In the Event of Contact is a loving homage to humanity in all its complexity." -The Millions

"Cultures merge, too, in the collection, Rohan's meticulously crafted stories reflecting emigration and identity struggles on top of clashing relationships...In the Event of Contact reverberates with this ultra-personal stake, made palpable in the cultures, characters, and relationships woven into its earnest, artful, and heartfelt stories." -J.A. Tyler, Ploughshares Magazine

"A striking collection about loners." -Publishers Weekly

"The stories straddle the faultlines of the lives of their characters and as a collection quietly and subtly accumulate a potency that by the end leaves the reader breathless." -Tadhg Carey, The Westmeath Independent

"Rohan's plain prose helps to feature the emotional earthquakes these characters undergo while they're navigating ordinary happenings, and her masterful use of Irish lilts and rhythms helps to reveal intricate emotional distances between those who left and those who stayed behind, even as it nestles the reader deep into her characters' hearts and minds." -Elaine Chiew, Foreword Reviews

"Rohan excels in the movement of characters, positioning them as efficiently as a stage manager. She knows at precisely which scene the Peters and the Dohertys of the world should enter, and she understands the limited space she is working with. This control ensures that her stories are never at a loss for momentum...Rohan captures the emigrant experience for what it is, a process of becoming an alien in two countries - and as glad as her characters might be that they left, they understand that everywhere has become, in some way, a separate world, in which there will still also be men." -Connor Harrison, Necessary Fiction

"Much of [Rohan's] work deals in the difficult, but it is of the emotional, spiritual sort-the prose itself flows swift, clear and beautiful, with the musicality of her literary ancestors, and also with ripples of something completely her own." -Alex Capdeville, Scoundrel Time

"In each story, Rohan's prose shines with deft eloquence, depicting her characters with compassion, leavened by insight." -Paul Wilner, Nob Hill Gazette
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About Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan is the author of In the Event of Contact, winner of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize (2021). Her debut novel The Weight of Him (St. Martin's Press and Atlantic Books, 2017) was an Amazon, Bustle, KOBO, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book, and was shortlisted for the Reading Women Award. She is also the author of the story collections Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for the Story Prize. Her work has appeared widely, including The New York Times, World Literature Today, The Washington Post, PEN America, Tin House, Guernica, and more. Raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco where she is a member of the Writers Grotto.
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Rating details

168 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 46% (78)
4 30% (51)
3 18% (31)
2 3% (5)
1 2% (3)
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