An Introduction to Gaelic Fiction

From the Contemporary Fiction chapter in Moray Watson’s An Introduction to Gaelic Fiction (2011):

Alison Lang’s debut, Cainnt na Caileige Caillte (2009), mainly focuses on characters and settings that are not ‘Gàidhealach‘, although stories like ‘Oidhche gun Ùrnaigh’ and ‘Beul gun Phutan’ are deliberate attempts to fit into the long-standing conventions in Gaelic fiction. In ‘Oidhche gun Ùrnaigh’ (‘A Night without a Prayer’), the characters are urban Gaels, attending prayer meetings in Edinburgh. The hybridisation of Gaelic culture is metonymised in the names of the two principal characters: Diana and Aonghas. Diana’s romance with Aonghas leads her to question her religious practices. Sin and guilt are central themes. ‘Beul gun Phutan’ (‘A Mouth without a Button’), on the other hand, has no such weighty themes. It is a simple tale of a family cooking together. Other motifs in Lang’s stories include failing relationships, loneliness, cats and futility. ‘Latha Eile san Fhactaraidh’ (‘Another Day in the Factory’) incorporates a number of these motifs and owes much to the Greek myth of Tartarus. The main character retreats into an introspective inner world to escape the tedium of the quotidien, which is a metonym for the pointlessness of all life. Both ‘An Tèile’ (‘The Other Woman’) and ‘Faileas’ (‘Reflection’) consider the effects of promiscuity and the way that sexual relationships actuate interpersonal dynamics that are utterly different from any other kinds of relationships or friendships. In ‘A Dh’innse na Fìrinn’ (‘To Tell the Truth’) and the title story, ‘Cainnt na Caileige Caillte’ (‘The Language of the Lost Girl’), various senses of the concept of truth are explored. On the whole, Cainnt na Caileige Caillte is a deft and polished debut collection from someone who promises to contribute much to the literature.