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Published online 10th June, 2019.

Reproduced with kind permission from The Irish Times


Like many others I would imagine, my first introduction to the work of the Belfast writer Bernard MacLaverty (born in 1942) was through the successful film adaptations of his first novel, Lamb, with Liam Neeson in the main role, and the highly successful ‘Troubles’ film, Cal, based on the novel of the same name. Nominated for several prestigious literary awards, a member of Aosdána, author of numerous well-regarded novels and short story collections, MacLaverty is nevertheless largely neglected in terms of the critical attention he has attracted. The shining exceptions are the essay collection, About Bernard MacLaverty: New Critical Readings, edited by Richard Rankin Russell and published by Bloomsbury in 2014, and the monograph, also authored by Rankin Russell, Bernard MacLaverty, published in 2009. When you read through his work, as I have done in recent months, this critical neglect is difficult to fathom. Because MacLaverty is a skilled wordsmith and someone with keen insights into the human psyche. Like his fellow Belfast writer, Brian Moore, MacLaverty is also a wonderful storyteller with a great feel for dialogue, characters, landscape (or cityscape), and a sharp understanding of the factors that make people behave in a certain manner, be it family background, social class, religion or education.

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