Winner of the PEN International New Voices Award 2015
Shortlisted for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2015
'This first collection of stories features a wonderfully diverse array of characters, including a dog racer, a music shop owner, singers, circus performers, and two young sisters in Warsaw during the Second World War. Behind each colourful backdrop lies the inner turmoil of depression, grief and loss, which Rebecca F. John explores with touching empathy and a profound humanity.’ Francesca Rhydderch
‘These stories come from a deep, soul-like place of vitality, warmth and beauty. This is a debut as compelling as the work of Evie Wyld or Sarah Hall. Rebecca F. John is a prodigious writer of great intelligence and talent.’ Roshi Fernando
'compelling and varied… these delicacies offer vignettes, glimpses… they shine a light into a dark place, one in which we might recognise our own reflection slightly twisted… John’s short poetic stories are never far from dreams with dark edges, she is a master of the last line.’ Mary Jacob reviews Clown’s Shoes for New Welsh Review
'John favours a searchlight on the lonely and forsaken. We peer into worlds containing lives so brittle you should be afraid to touch in case they snap or wither. There is a timeless, sensual quality to John’s prose and a creeping seam of unease underpinning these sketched lives.' Zoe Ranson, Wales Arts Review
Onstage again, you stare down at your feet, imagining you see the bright, painted curves of a pair of clown’s shoes… It helps to pretend you are a clown, hidden inside baggy trousers, your true face invisible behind splashes of red lipstick and pale powder…
A dazzling, ambitious debut collection from a young talent, (shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award 2015 and the PEN International/New Voices Award 2015) these critically acclaimed stories dip into the shadows and spotlights of life. From the pale waking hours to the darkling places, Clown’s Shoes introduces a cast of lost characters trying to find their way, and asking whether everyone really does come salting home in the end?
Since the Devil visited the glove maker, she has found herself in the asylum counting out days instead of stitches. At the dog track, hidden amongst the rowdy punters, a woman bets on underdogs, life, and love. Onstage, a desperate mother performs a nightly striptease, whilst, in a small Welsh town, a young Korean immigrant tells her secrets to the sway of the sea.
The people who populate the exciting and intriguing world of Clown’s Shoes have stories that enthrall the imagination.
Rebecca F. John is from Pwll, a village on the South Wales coast. She studied Creative Writing at Swansea University. She has been published in Parthian's Nu: Fiction & Stuff, and the Terry Hetherington Award anthologies Cheval 4 and 5. Her short story, ‘The Dog Track’, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2013, and she was highly commended in the 2014 Manchester Fiction Prize. She works as a Ski Instructor.