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‘Characters all but leap off the page with believability in these marvellous stories of life (and death) in Belfast’ Sunday Times

‘Characters all but leap off the page with believability in these marvellous stories of life (and death) in Belfast’ Sunday Times

Melding his native Irish sensibilities to those of his adopted west-coast Scotland, these tales attend to life’s big events: love and loss, separation and violence, death and betrayal. But the stories teem with smaller significant moments too – private epiphanies, chilling exchanges, intimate encounters. Each of these extraordinary stories – with their wry, self-deprecating humour, their elegance and subtle wisdom – gets to the very heart of life.


Not since J.D. Salinger's For Esme With Love and Squalor have I enjoyed so much a collection of stories. I mean pleasure – real pleasure.

Paul Durcan, The Cork Examiner

MacLaverty is one of the best practitioners of the genre we have.

New Statesman

His prose is invisible, free of tricks, as though it was your own thoughts.


Beautifully constructed, minutely observed, filled with the poetry of longing, told with an economy and simplicity which makes their small tragedies even more powerful and moving… MacLaverty has created an imagined Ulster which can stand side by side with Joyce's Dublin. Long may he continue.


MacLaverty has a knack for endowing the workaday with a little poetry.


MacLaverty's jaunty, light prose just skips over it all: here a turn of phrase, there a modest observation that lays a whole scene open. The effect is, as one of the characters says, "beyond rubies''.

Daily Telegraph

MacLaverty is an exhilarating, tender, humorous writer… who can set a scene and create a character with Chekhovian delicacy and economy.

Sunday Telegraph

Expert, elegant, mature and passionate.


Compelling tales of family dramas in troubled times.


Characters all but leap off the page with believability in these marvellous stories of life (and death) in Belfast. Funny...and forlorn, they are triumphs of exactness – Joyce and Chekhov come to mind – in which time, place and personality are caught with unshowy authority and not a word seems wasted.

Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times

Bitter-sweetness is the mood of many of these stories. MacLaverty is a generous and sympathetic writer, one who is capable of celebrating joy and happiness, while remaining aware that life often brings more disappointments than rewards.

Scotsman (Web)

A masterpiece of wit and elegance.

Elspeth Barker, Literary Review

The author charts the various stages of life with engaging curiosity and earthy compassion... The publishers, Jonathan Cape, have done a fine job with this handsome and substantial collection.

Keith Hopper, Times Literary Supplement

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    December 1, 2014

    Vintage Classics

    640 pages

    RRP $24.99

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  • EBook


    November 14, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    640 pages

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