Michael Collins
Author & Ultra-Marathoner


Bio

Born in Limerick Ireland, Michael Collins is a relation of the Irish Nationalist hero, Michael Collins.

He prides himself on the political and social legacy for which Collins fought and died for on behalf of creating the Irish Republic.

Author

Collins is the acclaimed author of nine books, including novels and short stories. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages. Accolades include -

  • Irish Novel of the Year
  • Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
  • Shortlisted for The IMPAC Prize
  • Lucien Barriere Literary Prize - France
  • Breakout Novel of the Year - France
  • Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award
  • New York Times Notable Book of the Year Award
  • Pushcart Prize for Best American Short Story
  • USA TODAY Editor's Choice Pick
  • Pushcart Prize for Best American Short Story

In 2008, Collins won The University of Notre Dame Graduate Alumni of the Year Award.

Ultra-Runner

An international class ultra-runner, Collins' achievements include -

  • The Last Marathon (Antarctica, 1997) - Winner
  • Redwoods Marathon. (Northern California 1997) - Winner
  • The Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race (India/Nepal Border 1999)- Winner
  • Everest Challenge Marathon, (India/Nepal 1999) - Winner.
  • The Sahara Marathon Algeria 2006) - Winner
  • The North Pole Marathon (North Pole, 2006) - Winner
  • Silver Medalist at The USA National 50 Mile Championships)
  • Bronze medalist at World 100k Championships held in Gibraltar, 2010
  • Irish National Record Holder - Masters 100k

Programmer

Collins is an accomplished Computer Programming -

  • Worked on first generation Mosaic and Netscape Technologies at The University of Illinois
  • Programmer/writer at Microsoft
  • Head of Northwestern University's Medical School Computer Lab
  • Pioneered digital projects to create 3D imaging of the human body based on the Digital Human Project


Education

Collins's varied academic interests include Literature, Philosophy and Computer Programming.

He holds the following degrees -

  • BA & MA from The University of Notre Dame (87' 91')
  • Doctorate from The University of Illinois (1997)
  • In his second year of study at The University of Oxford, matriculating for an Masters of Studies Degree

He currently heads a Cloud and Device based project to deliver $50 devices that can run web-based programs and sits on the board of major non-profit organizations seeking to extend the educational reach of Internet resources to all communities.

Collins has written many computer-based application in the medical and educational fields and presented at major academic and professional conferences.

While studying for his doctorate in English, Collins worked on ground-breaking research in digital imaging as head of Northwestern University's Medical School Computer Facility.

As a programmer/writer at Microsoft, Collins penned his Booker shortlisted novel, The Keepers of Truth which became an international bestseller.


Collins as Author

Collins' work has garnered much praise and numerous awards. Highlights in his early years include -

  • Irish Novel of the Year
  • Lucien Barriere Literary Prize - France
  • Breakout Novel of the Year - France
  • Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
  • Shortlisted for The IMPAC Prize
  • Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award
  • New York Times Notable Book of the Year Award
  • Pushcart Prize for Best American Short Story
  • USA TODAY Editor's Choice Pick
  • Pushcart Prize for Best American Short Story


Movies & Plays

The film rights to Collins's books have been optioned -

  • The Keepers of Truth rights are owned by Gorgeous Productions - Chris Palmer Director
  • The Resurrectionists rights are owned by Contagious Films - John Madden Oscar-winning Director
  • Adapted the movie Julia - released in 2007 starring Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton

An adaptation of Collins' latest novel, Midnight in a Perfect Life is currently under development.

Collins's short story, The Butcher's Daughter, released in his collection of short stories, "The Meat Eaters" is included in a play concerning The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The play charts the harrowing struggle between the Irish and the British over the six counties that constitute Northern Ireland.

Collins' work was adapted from his short story, The Butcher's Daughter, which recounts the story of a pregnant young Irish girl sitting in a pub with a bomb concealed in the belly of a childhood doll she has placed in a stroller.

Distraught over the death of her boyfriend, the young narrator carries on a stream of conscious monologue as she wills herself to carry out a suicide bombing. The intensity of the personal and societal drama of life in Northern Ireland unfolds as precious time ticks away for all those within the pub.

Will the young narrator follow through on her plan of revenge and desire to find her boyfriend on the other side of life?

With the recent cessation of violence in Northern Ireland, Belfast is a sobering look back at the sectarian landscape of what Yeats once described "as a terrible beauty."

For audiences around the world, this timeless story of religious and political violence holds bloodstained lessons regarding the tenuous sense of national identity and allegiances in times of crisis.


Trinity College Dublin Acquires Collins' Manuscripts

The famed College recently acquired Collins' manuscripts which were featured in its historic old library which houses The Book of Kells.

The manuscripts and correspondences are available to researchers.

Collins will continue to supply the college with his future works and is delighted that his work has been acquired by The Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity, Dr. Bernard Meehan.

Collins is also working on a computer-based application that tracks the development of a novel through its various stages of development and hopes to make the application available to researchers in 2012.

Dr. Meehan has been a great source of inspiration and support to Collins over the last few years and in helping him organize and collate his materials.


Collins as Athlete

Collins' career as a runner has been filled with numerous highlights.

Extreme Adventure Marathon Wins Include

  • The Last Marathon (Antarctica, 1997) - Winner.
  • Redwoods Marathon. (Northern California 1997) - Winner.
  • The Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race (India/Nepal Border 1999)- Winner.
  • Everest Challenge Marathon, (India/Nepal 1999) - Winner.
  • The Sub-Sahara Marathon (Saharawi Refugee Camps, Algeria. 2006) - Winner
  • The North Pole Marathon (North Pole, 2006) - Winner
  • Silver Medalist at The USA National 50 Mile Championships)
  • Bronze medalist at World 100k Championships held in Gibraltar, 2010

Collins attended The University of Notre Dame, Indiana on an Athletic Scholarship from 1983-86, whereafter he quit running for almost a decade.

Collins' return to long distance running came after a near-mortal stabbing attack in Chicago in the early 90's. Since this life-altering incident Collins has invested his life with personal and spiritual meaning and used his running exploits to raise money and awareness for numerous humanitarian causes. He mentors various school programs, has started an annual scholarship for high school students, and works with prison inmates and war veterans.

His extreme running exploits have been featured in -

  • Runners World.
  • GQ Magazine
  • Sports Illusrated
  • Forbes
  • The Red Bulletin (Red Bull Magazine)


Captain of Irish Nation 100K Team

The Irish National Team has risen to international prominence in recent years, including a 5th place at The 2012 World Championships.

Collins' contribution to the team include -

  • 2010 Captain of The Irish Nation Team at World Championship held in Gibraltar
  • 2010 World Champion Bronze Medalist Masters
  • 2007 Irish Nation Record for the 100k Masters
  • 2012 member of 5th place team at World Championships in Torino, Italy


On Being Stabbed - Running for My Life

This article appeared in The Irish Times so forgive the preamble....

The marathon distance, legend has it, goes back to Athens, 490 B.C., when a messenger soldier named Pheidippides was sent by foot from a battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens, some 24 miles away, to herald news of Greek victory over the Persians. As legend goes, after Pheidippides delivered the message "Niki!" ("Victory!"), he collapsed and died.

Two millennia later, the same sense of urgency that drove Pheidippides has been resurrected in a sub-culture of extreme marathon racing which pits athletes against distances far in excess of the traditional 26.2 mile distance and in some of the most inhospitable places around the globe. There are extreme marathons in the searing heat of the Sahara and Gobi Deserts, in the drenching rainforest of the Amazon Jungle, to the heights of Mount Everest, and in the polar deep freeze of the South and North Poles. In this sub-culture of athlete/humanitarian, each marathoner is driven by personal and often philanthropic goals, championing personal triumphs over adversity, raising awareness and money for charities, each running with a message of "Victory". It is, without a doubt, one of the noblest sub-cultures of sporting masochism into which athletes can be initiated.

My own personal journey into this sub-culture happened years after I'd burned out on a college track scholarship. I was living in Chicago, doing my doctorate at a university set near one of the city's most notorious slums. The urban makeup of Chicago was typical of the abrupt American divide between rich and poor, the slum area on one side of a no-man's land park which served as a divide from a row of re-gentrified turn of the century homes. It reminded me of a 19th century battlefield, where opposing armies lined up against one another, then charged.

In the spring of '95, in this strange and incongruous world I'd called home for almost four years without personal incident, I became a victim of a vicious attack by a crazed drug addict, who, without even asking for money, just exploded into a frenzy as I walked past him, stabbing me in the back and slashing my arms before I fell to the ground, flaying my legs against what turned out to be a ten-inch serrated make-shift blade. In the end, I managed to get my wallet from my back pocket and throw it to the side. The perpetrator grabbed it and disappeared down a Church alley, known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, leading back to the slums.

I had known the clear and present dangers of living on the frontlines of poverty. Two years earlier, a medical student had been dragged down this same trail, raped and murdered, but somehow I'd always felt the unwarranted invincibility of youth. I remember my first reaction was a sense of shame. I felt diminished. In fact, I was furious at me! In the hours that followed, as I came out of shock, I asked myself, rhetorically, "How had I let myself become prey, me the scholarship athlete? How had I let myself be taken down like some creature out on a savanna?" My gut reaction became a sort of mantra of survival, as I repeated over and over, "I've got to get fast!" I heard a cop who'd come to interview me say candidly to a nurse, "What can you expect when you live in niggersville?" I was, in his eyes, the problem.

In the coming weeks, I had to fight the urge to see myself as the victim and not lash out at everything around me. The easy way out was to become racist, to lump an entire population with the action of one individual.

My landlord suggested I get a gun, while duly informing me, for the umpteenth time, I wasn't getting out of the lease unless I found another tenant. I couldn't afford to gamble on paying two rents while waiting for someone to sublet, so I stayed, hemmed in by my own poverty, as my heart hardened against inner city poor. I hated the sight of them, found myself racing down streets, cursing - the running man.

During that time, the O.J. trial had taken on a vast cultural significance, the anticipated verdict predicted to be another flashpoint in race relations. White America was hunkered down, black America waiting to spill out onto the streets. It seems like such ancient history now, in the retelling of it, but back then cops poured into my neighborhood in force, and trapped, all I could do was run and run.

In early October, '95, O.J. got his "get out of jail free" card, and, if America breathed easier in the wake of the verdict, I didn't, still psychologically scarred. A few months after being stabbed, I lined up at The Chicago Marathon and, on pure adrenaline, finished in 28th place. Out of fear and desperation I'd run myself back to the cusp of a national class time, a mere five minutes off the Olympic Trial Qualifying Time. I still had this latent running talent, though the motivation was different, not dreams of Olympic glory, but mere survival.

That spring, I chanced to see a posting for a local 10K race, thought nothing of it, other than there was a $250 check for first place. It was a race that ended up being sponsored by the parents of the murdered medical student, the memorial run to raise money for a scholarship in her name. The father spoke briefly at the starting line about his daughter, how she'd worked in low-income clinics, her career choice a life serving the poor. She had been a runner - the 10k race, a natural choice to celebrate her life. The field included friends and relatives, medical students and faculty, along with local church groups of teenagers. I remember listening to her father, and feeling a humbling sense of remorse immediately for the reactionary hate I'd let get hold of me.

The race course took us past the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail where a wreath of flowers had been laid where the girl had been murdered and where, but for fate, I, too, might have been numbered among the dead, though, in the heat of the race, I didn't stop to reflect, just dug deep and pushed hard. The healing had begun deep down, without words.

I saw the dignity in individual lives, saw that day the inquisitive smiles in the youth group black kids who hung around after the race as medical staff volunteers showed them how a blood pressure cuff worked, let them handle stethoscopes and listen to one another's hearts. The post-race fraternity eclipsed the race which had been merely a pretext to reach across the socio-economic divide.

In the ensuing years, I left behind road racing for an emerging sub-culture of extreme marathon racing where athletes with life-altering experiences gather to share the vastness and mystery of our world, where we travel as fellow-pilgrims to pit ourselves against nature. We are mindful of our secrets. This is not a sub-culture of braggarts or proselytizers. In this cult I have found the perfect balance of my boyhood need to run, coupled with doing good. Each marathon has had its own profound effect on me.

In 1997, after my first year of gainful employment, I quit my job, mindful that I had been given a second chance in life. I swore off the nine-to-five job track, then, headed south, where I tangoed at midnight in Buenos Aires in the failing days of Argentina's economic collapse. Four days later I read The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner aboard a Russian Ice Breaker while crossing the Drake Passage, and on through to the Antarctic Circle where I ran The Last Marathon on the Antarctic continent.

In October, 1999, to celebrate the end of the millennium, I traveled to the border of India/Nepal to run the Everest Challenge Marathon, an arduous 100 mile stage race. En-route to India, I stopped to experience the robotic efficiency of South Korea, a country like a giant video game, traveled through the smog and abject poverty of Old Delhi, before departing for the hillside spirituality of Darjeeling, snaking my way toward Everest, where monks in saffron robes blessed our passage, indulging the personal quests of us western runners.

In 2006, I continued what has become part of a tried and tested methodology: six months writing a book, then six months extreme training, then escaping the modern world for some distant and exotic marathon. I came up with a self-titled Challenge, Fire & Ice, pitting myself in two marathons run five weeks apart, where the temperature difference could potentially be 130 degrees. In February, 2006 I lived for six days in the Sahara Desert in a refugee camp preparing to compete in The Sahara Sub Marathon. I saw the extreme poverty of the stateless Saharawi people, felt the tragedy of a lost generation awaiting a return to their homeland. It was an experience so humbling I plan on returning next year to lead a marathon group committed to raising funds for the camp's schools. Almost incidental to the socio-political impact of the experience was the fact that I outran the former two time world marathon champion and London Marathon winner in the actual event.

Five weeks later, in April 2006, I headed north to compete in The North Pole Marathon where the noblest of deeds were silently accomplished alongside the sheer madness of running a marathon on the frozen sea at the top of the world. The event wasn't merely about the vain glory of reaching a geographical landmark.

After a grueling marathon saw some athletes out for almost 10 hours in -30 Celsius, I watched the next day these same runners, huddled and tired, leave the comfort of the heated tents and go silently about their dual mission here at the pole, their humanitarian mission. I watched them move toward a hillock of pressure ridge and place letters in a makeshift grotto. A runner confided in me later what had gone on, the letters for Santa, given by children in hospitals, their last abiding wishes that Santa read them. Sadly, almost a third of these children had died before their letters were placed at the Pole. It is the most indelible memory I have of the North Pole.

I give you this glimpse into our secret lives, into what goes on in our sub-culture of extreme marathon running, but, if by chance we meet in some distant land on the starting line, don't expect such noble sentiment in my eyes, but the atavistic stare of a predator high on adrenaline, for we are a breed, equal part competitor and humanitarian. It's what sees us through these marathon distances over unforgiving terrains, what gets us to the finish line. There will be time enough to talk honestly in the days after, in the journey home.


Fire and Ice Challenge

In mid-2005, Collins found his form again after years of chronic injuries related to competing in the Everest Marathon and 100 Mile Stage Race. He suffered numerous stress fractures which eventually required surgery and with the aid of his wife (a rehab doctor) he set about reviving his running career. He set his sights on a challenge he has dubbed the Fire and Ice Challenge which saw him, in just over the space of a month in 2006, compete in both The Sahara Marathon and The North Pole Marathon.

The temperature difference between the two events was 90F+ in the Sahara, to -35F at the North Pole, a difference of 125 degrees.

Training for such extremes was a major challenge, though part of the extreme sports credo is simply to arrive and deal with conditions. At The Everest Marathon, Collins arrived with no altitude acclimatization and ascended the marathon distance, rising to over 14,000 feet, something the medical literature strictly warns against.


Fire - The Sub-Sahara Marathon

Collins completed the first half of the Fire and Ice Challenge, The Sahara Half Marathon on Feb 28th. The race began in the desert and ended in Smara, the second-largest of the three refugee camps, where cheering refugees awaited the runners. Collins opted for the shorter distance half-marathon due to the extreme heat, and the fact that last year a fierce sandstorm picked up during the event. Most of the other top athletes, representing seventeen countries, also opted to race the shorter distance, guaranteeing a fast and competitive race.

Representing his native Ireland, and wearing the Irish Team tricolours, the race was not only an emotional personal experience, but also had political overtones, as the race was run in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the creation of Saharawi Refugee Camps in Algeria.

Also, only a few days earlier, the Saharawi camps had been stricken by heavy rains, unusual for the desert region, and creating vast devastation. Water destroyed houses, tents and many of the public buildings, hospitals and schools. Almost 50,000 Saharawis were left homeless. U.N. relief, in the way of tents and water, had been shipped in to aid in the disaster relief efforts by the time the marathon contingent arrived. The marathoners brought with them their own modest relief supplies, especially much needed school supplies for the schools.

Despite the hardships, the Saharawi put on a great race. Collins won The Half Marathon, outpacing a trio of Spanish frontrunners that included Abel Anton, the former two-time Marathon World Champion and London Marathon Winner.

It was a tough-fought race, over rolling dunes, with rising temperatures and gusting headwinds carrying sand at upwards of 30mph. Collins' off-road conditioning paid off, and he pulled away with three miles to go, eventually gaining a two minute victory margin.

Said Collins, "The race was unlike anything I've ever competed in before, from an emotional standpoint. The political backdrop and plight of The Saharawi People, now enduring a 30th year in one of the most extreme environments on Earth, deeply affected all who participated in the event. Compounding the situation was the recent destruction of homes and tents during heavy rains. I'd never experienced a people surviving on such little means, and bearing so well under the ordeal."

A deep solidarity developed between athletes and refugees, and the goal of the race organizers was realized, as numerous returning athletes brought much-needed aid and helped highlight the plight of the people through articles published in newspapers around the world. Also, numerous first time participants committed themselves to returning again next year with donated aid packages. Unlike so many extreme events, the nature of The Sahara Marathon is centered on solidarity and deep commitment to the cause of the refugees. This is a race and experience that is life-altering. You cannot just walk away after a week living amidst these people.


North Pole Marathon

On April 8th, 2006, Collins completed the second leg of his Fire and Ice Challenge, winning The North Pole Marathon,recognized by Guinness World Records as northernmost marathon on earth.

The race is run entirely on Arctic ice floes, with a mere 6 to 12 feet separating competitors from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. Ice rifts are known to occur in the ice, even at the pole, adding an element of danger to the run.

The certified 26.2-mile (42km) event, dubbed the world's coolest marathon, took place at a temporary Russian North Pole camp in the high Arctic Ocean at the Geographic North Pole. In the extremely challenging underfoot conditions, runners were forced to wear snow shoes to navigate the soft snow and hillocks of ice.

Temperatures dipped to -23C throughout the race, while visibility was hampered by a swirling snow causing some runners to experience temporary snow blindness. However, all competitors finished the marathon distance. Carsten Kolle (Germany) forced the pace at the outset, crunching through the hushed indomitable surroundings with Collins matching Kolle stride for stride over the initial 10km. Collins finally pulled away and went on to win by a 30 minute margin on what race director, Richard Donovan called, "The toughest ever terrain for the race."

Collins had nothing but praise for Donovan, stating, "Richard pulled off simply the most amazing extreme marathon race I've run, and that's saying something since I've done the Mount Everest and Antarctic marathons. This race took runners to the limit of their endurance and lived up to its billing, affording athletes a chance to run on top of the world."

Equally impressive was the mix of top athletes and those making the journey to raise money for charity. Some runners were out in the elements for upward of 10 hours, finishing encrusted in ice. The lightheartedness of many of those running for charity added to the close fraternity that developed at the camp. One of the most hilarious memories was that of three runners who dressed in costume for the first lap, one dressed as a polar bear, another as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and another as Santa.

Numerous athletes were their nation's first to the North Pole, so the entire proceedings in the days after the race took on a really special aura as racers relaxed. A Queenslander, Brendan Smith, Australia, exemplified the spirit of total craziness as he guzzled a bottle of Australian beer in a Hawaiian shirt at the Pole.

Tempering the humour were also poignant moments where charity runners placed Christmas wish-lists they'd received from sick children at the North Pole. One can only suspect the dreams and wishes enclosed in the cards.

In this, the third running of the event, over a MILLION POUNDS has been raised so far, making this a uniquely humanitarian event.


Books Published

Released April 2010

Winner - The Lucien Barrier Award Best Novel, France 2011

Karl is a troubled writer standing on the precipice of forty. After a degree of success in his early career he is now battling with what he terms his 'opus', his legacy to the world. But his partner Lori, the main breadwinner, is also thinking about her destiny and wants a child.

As they embark on fertility treatment, Karl is forced to confront his deepest fear - that he will turn out to be like his father, a travelling salesman who was found dead after apparently committing murder when Karl was just thirteen.

Unbeknown to Lori, Karl has already taken loans out against their house to pay for his mother's care home, and his freelance work, ghosting for a crime writer called Perry Fennimore, has dried up.

As the treatment progresses, Karl feels increasingly distanced from his relationship and the safety of home, and attracted to the shadowlands of Chicago's backstreets. When Fennimore re-emerges with a proposal, Karl begins to tap this new source of creativity - but just how far will he go in his pursuit of the ultimate story?


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The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton

Released April 2006 UK

Released in US as Death of a Writer in September 2006

Winner of The Breakout Novel of the Year in France 2008

Longlisted for IMPAC Award 2008

Seattle PI Top Pick 2006

People 4 Star Review

Death of a Writer begins as once literary prodigy and now a virtual unknown, Professor E. Robert Pendleton clings hopelessly to his tenured position at a Midwestern college. Now, when a campus visit from a rival author, now a superstar, tips his malaise into desperation, death seems the only remaining option. But Pendleton's suicide attempt is thwarted by a young graduate student, leaving Pendleton relegated to a wheelchair, surviving in a barely-conscious state. It is then that an unpublished novel is discovered in his basement: a brilliant, semi-autobiographical story with a gruesome child murder at its core. The publication of Scream causes a storm of publicity, conferring on Pendleton the success he has always sought, when, ironically, he is no longer in a condition to appreciate it. Soon questions begin to be asked about the novel's content: in particular about the uncanny resemblance between Pendleton's fictional crime and a real-life, unresolved local murder. How did Pendleton know the case so well? And why did he bury Scream in his basement? Enter Jon Ryder, a world-weary detective, and the hunt for the murderer is on. A profound, darkly funny novel anchored by a gripping thriller, Death of a Writer explores the price of fame, the turmoil of academic life, and the precarious position of literature in American society.


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Lost Souls

USA Today Editors Choice

Finalist for Irish Novel of the Year

Finalist for Great Lakes Novel of the Year

Lost Souls begins with a tragedy on Halloween night. Among the petty vandalism and teenagers' pranks, a local police officer discovers the gruesome evidence of what appears to be a hit-and-run accident: a three-year-old child lying dead in a pile of leaves. But as the investigation proceeds and the media's spotlight intensifies, a much more ominous story unfolds. While the mayor and chief of police conspire to divert attention from the primary suspect - a local high school football hero whom they hope will take the town all the way to the state championship - it is left to the man who discovered the child's body to find the truth beneath the cover-up.


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The Resurrectionists

PNBA Novel of The Year

NY Times Notable Book of the Year

The solitude of the Upper Michigan Peninsula is Michael Collins's heart of darkness in this compelling story of the unquiet dead. Almost thirty years ago, when Frank Cassidy was five, his parents burned to death in a remote Michigan town. Now Frank's uncle is dead too, shot by a mysterious stranger who lies in a coma in the local hospital. Frank, working menial jobs to support his unfaithful wife and two children, takes his family north in a series of stolen cars to dispute his cousin's claim on the family farm. Once there, however, Frank also wants answers to questions about his own past: Who really set the fire that burned the family home and killed his parents? Will the stranger, who hangs between life and death, be able to shed light on long-buried secrets? As the television blares the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, news of Jim Jones, and endless sitcom reruns, simple answers -- and the promise of the American dream -- seem to recede from Frank's grasp. Brilliant and unsettling, The Resurrectionists is an ironic yet chilling indictment of American culture in the seventies and a compassionate novel about a man struggling to overcome the crimes and burdens of his past.


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The Keepers of Truth

Booker Prize 2000 shortlist

Impac Prize 2002 shortlist

Irish Novel of the Year 2000

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

The last of a manufacturing dynasty in a dying industrial town, Bill lives alone in the family mansion and works for the Truth, the moribund local paper. He yearns to write long philosophical pieces about the American dream gone sour, not the flaccid write-ups of bake-off contests demanded by the Truth. Then, old man Lawton goes missing, and suspicion fixes on his son, Ronny. Paradoxically, the specter of violent death breathes new life into the town. For Bill, a deeper and more disturbing involvement with the Lawtons ensues. The Lawton murder and the obsessions it awakes in the town come to symbolize the mood of a nation on the edge. Compulsively readable, The Keepers of Truth startles both with its insights and with Collins's powerful, incisive writing.


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Emerald Underground

Best First Novel of the Year France

April 1981. New York. A young Irishman, Liam is in hiding, waiting until the dreadful act in which he has had to participate becomes public knowledge, forced to keep it a secret because he is an illegal immigrant. In this, his second novel. Michael Collins writes with his Characteristic rawness and anger about the Irish in 80s America, as he gives the lie to the notion that were that country's favourite sons, but also, in a novel of maturity and rare beauty, he brings a new poignancy to our understanding of the emigrant experience, and of the loneliness of not belonging.


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The Feminists Go Swimming

The Feminists Go Swimming explores different aspects of the Irish character, and neatly satirises his country's current preoccupations. Feminism, alcohol, emigration and the Church - none escape the author's caustic and unforgiving eye. As always with Collins, there is humour and horror in equal measure, love and betrayal mingled with defiance and laughter. 'Michael Collins's vision is breathtakingly black and his writing so sharp you could cut yourself on it'.


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The Life and Times of a Teaboy

Ambrose Feeney has seen his hopes and ambitions dashed by others' influence and his own inertia. His Limerick is an old siege city of walls, both real and psychological. As Ambrose descends into lunacy he paints a starkly sane portrait of one family's life in an Ireland unsoftened by the mists of legend. The Life and Times of a Teaboy begins with the recollection of a Christmas past and ends with the entrance of the principal character into a lunatic asylum; a crisis in personal growth that mirrors the nation's.


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The Meat Eaters

New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1993

Short Stories spanning the latter half of the Twentieth Century in Ireland. Stories range from Irish rural life, to the troubles in the North, to emigration.

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Site last updated Nov, 2011. Site managed by Computer Learning Technologies. Copyright Michael Collins 2011

Michael Collins
Author & Ultra-Marathoner