Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Featured Fiction: Between Trains by Barry Callaghan

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McArthur and Company, 2007

Barry Callaghan is Open Book's April Writer in Residence. Do you have a question or comment for Barry? You can send him an email to

About Between Trains: Callaghan's characters include gangsters and princes of the Church: murderous children and survivors of the concentration camps; farmers yearning for the rapture and the idle rich learning to be feckless; a blues singer and a soldier who is a sniper.

These people, though they have no faith, try desperately to believe; though their hearts have been broken they try desperately to love; though they feel forgotten they try desperately to tell their stories.

"These stories are pearls. They are held together, like an exquisite necklace, by a gold string. The gold in the necklace, in its brilliance, are the stories, "The Harder They Come"; "Without Shame"; and "The Ventriloquist." The gold is also the power of Callaghan's mastery of the narrative; and his consummate story-telling. His strength in Between Trains, is the vital understanding of human nature, the touch of wicked mysteriousness, and the eventual bursting forth of human honesty. This telling of the stories in this collection, brings back the literary, golden glitter of Callaghan's career. And it re-establishes him in sparkling literary form, amongst the best. Between Trains, with its implications of waiting, of anxiety, and of expectation, is just what we have been waiting to declare: that this is his best book."
– Austin Clarke

“As with Hemingway there are depths of emotion roiling beneath the deceptively simple surface of Callaghan’s prose … a master of the short story form working at the top of his game.” – Quill and Quire

Between Trains succeeds the old-fashioned way, the way of Sherwood Anderson and Hemingway … a coupling of skilled technique and earnest thematic intention that will never go out of style for as long as people care about superior literature.” – Ray Robertson, Books in Canada

“Sometimes a writer may ask, ‘Has no one been attending, did I not do my best? - so he goes at the task again and is so taken over by the possibilities found within himself that for one shining moment the world is restrung for the good and out of this comes a brilliance on the order of Between Trains.” – Leon Rooke

“Callaghan’s story, the Drei Alter Kockers is a story that the great Isaac Babel would have been proud to have written.” – Norman Snider, screenwriter, Dead Ringers

“The truths arrived at through the laconic restraint of these stories, their unerring rightness of voice and tonality, are also, one feels, deep truths of the human heart – and dark truths, unflinchingly confronted, of recent history… Between Trainsis the work of a master at full stretch … extraordinary.” – Globe and Mail

“Barry Callaghan writes better prose than anybody I know.” – Joe Fiorito, Toronto Star

“Good and evil resonant with unbearable intensity in this universe.” – Philip Marchand, Toronto Star

From the catalogue. Visit the McArthur and Company website to read more about Between Trains.