Published : Friday 15 May 2015
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In An Eochair (The Key), one of Mairtin O Cadhain's most Kafkaesque short stories (and one of his longest), J., a 'paper-keeper,' one of the more junior civil servant positions, accidentally locks himself in his office when the key breaks in the lock. The story -- a mixture of satire, farce, black comedy and, ultimately, tragedy -- relates the efforts of J. and various other characters, his wife, civil service colleagues and superiors and others, to extricate himself from his predicament. However, all efforts to free J. must be in accordance with civil service protocols, and no such protocol exists for J.'s unique dilemma.