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Feb 17, 2022

‘unsettling, unpredictable & brilliant’ How to Gut A Fish is published to widespread critical acclaim

Sheila Armstrong’s

Published today by Bloomsbury, How to Gut A Fish by Sheila Armstrong is a dazzling and disquieting collection of stories which places the bizarre beside the everyday and then elegantly and expertly blurs the lines.

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On a boat offshore, a fisherman guts a mackerel as he anxiously awaits a midnight rendezvous.

Villagers, one by one, disappear into a sinkhole beneath a yew tree.

A nameless girl is taped, bound and put on display in a countryside market.

A man returning home following the death of his mother finds something disturbing among her personal effects.

Praise for How to Gut A Fish 

“Poised, distinctive and excellent”

The Irish Times

“Assured … impressive … Armstrong has a talent for disrupting our expectations and her prose is sensorily rich … Her evocations of landscape are extraordinary”


“Armstrong’s stories are rich with description, sight and sounds, textures and scents. The details come quickly, compressed, in close succession; the writing is forever being infused by sensations, both strange and new … Disquieting material, equanimous prose; in combining the two, Armstrong’s stories have a sinister finesse”

Sunday Telegraph


“A triumph, then. A book entirely of and for the moment, possessed of the courage to document the horrors of a world unravelling and the wit to enhance its unflinching worldview with a wry dose of humanity. The stories in How to Gut a Fish, bolstered by Armstrong’s rangy and elegant prose, vibrate with a potent energy. We will be lucky indeed if we see a finer debut collection this year”

“Unsettling, unpredictable, and brilliant”

Roddy Doyle

“This exquisitely wrought collection made me feel as if I were inhabiting another realm: sensuous, tactile, beautiful and disturbing. Sheila Armstrong's hypnotic prose has a haunting, lingering, dreamlike effect”

Lisa Harding, author of Bright Burning Things

“Armstrong’s short stories make tremendously good company, each one transported me to a place I’d never been before. Dark, devilishly well written and full of atmosphere, How to Gut a Fish is one of the most original and affecting short story collections I’ve read in years”

Jan Carson, Author Of The Fire Starters

“Do you know when you read a sentence that is so good, it does weird things to your insides? You kind of shudder with satisfaction and hope for more. Well, I am addicted to good

sentences, and Sheila Armstrong is my dealer. The stories in How to Gut a Fish are gorgeously weird, inspiring curiosity both on and off the page. If you’re anything like me, they will send you into a fit of ferocious googling: What is star jelly? How old is the moon? The story titles are works of art in themselves. This is the good stuff. Hook it to my veins” 

Louise Nealon, author of Snowflake

“I loved it. I found the stories completely hypnotic and strange. (Armstrong) has a meditative and mesmerising voice, and her description of everyday life is perceptive and profound"

Megan Bradbury, author of Everyone is Watching

“In sumptuous and evocative prose, Sheila Armstrong writes stories that are unnerving and unsettling. Stories which make you go, wait, wait, what was that?”

 Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground

“It's not often I open a book to find prose this exciting, original and frankly envy-inducing. Line by line, these stories set a series of small fires in my head, and they're still burning”

Zoe Gilbert, author of Folk

“I loved it. I found the stories completely hypnotic and strange. (Armstrong) has a meditative and mesmerising voice, and her description of everyday life is perceptive and profound”

Megan Bradbury, author of Everyone is Watching 

“Armstrong is a writer who must be noticed and read ... There are remarkable moments of clarity and beauty, making this an impressive and must-read debut. It is, most notably, the brilliant and disconcerting Red Market - an exceptional and unforgettable story that will forge How to Gut a Fish as a superb debut collection”

The Word Factory

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