Bernard MacLaverty is a writer whose work – like that of William Trevor, Edna O’Brien or Colm Tóibín – is deceptively simple on the surface but carries a turbulent undertow.
‘Blackthorns’ tells of a poor out-of-work Catholic man who falls gravely ill in the sectarian Northern Ireland of 1942 but is brought back from the brink by an unlikely saviour while ‘The End of Days’ imagines the last moments in the life of painter Egon Schiele. This collection of short stories – on family, love, the making of art, Catholicism, the Troubles and ageing – are marked by dark currents of violence, persecution and regret.
‘MacLaverty locates the precise point where life bleeds into art, and art into life. Even in the briefest of his stories his themes emerge slowly, unforced, as if pondering themselves; like the best writers through the ages, he is confident and questioning, engaged and wise.’ Hilary Mantel