Michael Magee’s debut novel, Close to Home, is a luminous and devastating portrait of modern masculinity, as shaped by class, trauma, and silence, but also by the courage to love and to survive.

Sean’s brother Anthony is a hard man. When they were kids their ma did her best to keep him out of trouble but you can’t say anything to Anto. Sean was supposed to be different. He was supposed to leave and never come back.

But Sean does come back. Arriving home after university, he finds Anthony’s drinking is worse than ever. Meanwhile the jobs in Belfast have vanished, Sean’s degree isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and no one will give him the time of day. One night he loses control and assaults a stranger at a party, and everything is tipped into chaos.

Close to Home witnesses the aftermath of that night, as Sean attempts to make sense of who he has become, and to reckon with the relationships that have shaped him, for better and worse.

Drawing from his own experiences, Michael Magee examines the forces which keep young working class men in harm’s way, in a debut novel which shines with intelligence and humanity on every page. Close to Home is an extraordinary work of fiction about deciding what kind of a man you want to be and finding your place in the scarred city you call home.

In conversation with Louise Kennedy

Duration 1 hour

Michael Magee is from Belfast. He is the fiction editor of The Tangerine, and his work has appeared in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, The Lifeboat and in The 32: An Anthology of Working Class Writing. He recently gained his PhD in Creative Writing from Queen’s University, Belfast. His debut novel, Close to Home, will be published by Hamish Hamilton in April 2023, and FSG (US) in May 2023.

Louise Kennedy grew up in Holywood, Co Down. Her short story collection, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac (Bloomsbury 2021) won the John McGahern Prize. Her debut novel, Trespasses (Bloomsbury 2022) won Eason’s Novel of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and the Barnes & Nobel Discover Prize. Before she started writing, she spent nearly thirty years working as a chef. She lives in Sligo.

Event Location

Nuns Island Theatre

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