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Close to Home


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About the Author

Michael Magee is the fiction editor of the Tangerine and a graduate of the creative writing PhD programme at Queen's University, Belfast. His writing has appeared in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, The Lifeboat and The 32- The Anthology of Irish Working-Class Voices. Close to Home is his first novel. It was shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2023 and won the Rooney Prize for Literature 2023.


Exceptional . . . Every detail rings true, every character is fleshy and real and heartbreaking . . . Magee has a remarkable talent
*Sunday Times (Laura Hackett)*

Taut and impressive, unfaltering and deftly executed . . . [It] feels like that rarest of things: a genuinely necessary book
*Guardian (Keiran Goddard)*

An exceptional debut destined for novel of the year shortlists
*Irish Times (Martin Doyle)*

Michael Magee is a born storyteller. By the end of the novel I wanted to book a flight to Ireland just to walk around and imagine who was where . . . I read this in two or three sittings only because I wanted to slow down and spend more time with Magee's considered and companionate writing. I finished it only last month, but plan to take it with me abroad to enjoy it once more
*Guardian ‘2023 Summer Reads’ (Derek Owusu)*

A vision of a post-conflict Belfast that didn't deliver what it promised, blighted by poverty, pain and memory. But far from being bleak, I laughed out loud many times. And it is full of love. Each character is so vividly drawn that I felt like I had met them somewhere before; even the most flawed of them is treated with dignity and respect, and an absence of judgement that reminded me of Annie Ernaux. And the writing! Supple, rich and demotic - Kneecap meets Chekhov - no one else is doing this. I had great hopes for this novel and Michael Magee has booted it out of the park. Absolutely glorious.
*Louise Kennedy, author of 'Trespasses'*

Unflinching, direct, disarmingly sensitive . . . Suffusing his narrative with honesty and grace, Magee succeeds in bringing his neighborhood to life for readers and suggests that, amid what seems like a never-ending struggle, there is always room for hope
*The Washington Post*

Michael Magee's Close to Home, amazingly a first novel, is about what it's like to be young and working class right now in Northern Ireland, and is a tremendous read, tensed and immersive, punching the air between hope and despair, deeply decent, unputdownable
*Guardian '2023 Summer Reads' (Ali Smith)*

Wonderful. A debut overflowing with years of experience and carefully worked craft. By turns hard-edged and soft-hearted, this novel is a gift from Michael Magee to us all
*Jon McGregor, author of 'Reservoir 13'*

The message of Michael Magee's dead-on debut novel is universal. At its core, Close to Home is about finding a way to transcend the pain, the people and the place you're born into
*The New York Times*

A complex and compassionate portrait of modern Belfast by an impressive new talent . . . Close to Home is a working class novel, an Irish novel, a bildungsroman, a novel about the self-congratulatory failures of Northern Ireland's political elite . . . [and a] sharp deconstruction of toxic masculinity
*Times Literary Supplement*

Lucid and stirring . . . Magee's persistently evocative and beautifully matter-of-fact descriptions of Belfast's landmarks and people are intertwined with a sensitive awareness of the city's social, political and religious history
*Literary Review*

A convincing, nuanced debut, bleak but powerful, marrying the thematic unsentimentality of Edouard Louis with prose reminiscent of Irvine Welsh
*Sunday Independent*

A beautiful, rich, tough, kind portrait of a life in the balance. And a great study of masculinity, the brother, the friends, the long-lost dad. It's full of hope
*Russell T. Davies*

Magee skilfully paints the landscape of a city still scarred by the Troubles . . . The book's themes - masculinity, class and history - don't offer easy resolutions. Instead, Magee deftly conveys the anxieties of a generation facing an uncertain future
*Irish Times (Mia Levitin)*

A lyrical examination of masculinity, class, and poverty. Magee's prose sings with the tenderness of a writer beyond his years
*Electric Literature*

Glorious. A bittersweet love letter to Northern Ireland... Magee confer[s] on even the ugliest of things (poverty, sectarianism, illness and death) a kind of sharp-edged elegance
*The Times, ‘2023 Summer Reads’*

Beautifully observed and sharp as a knife tip - as real and as raw as the truths you tell on a comedown, in the early hours, in the darkness of some stranger's house. Deeply affecting and badly needed, this is a novel I will be thinking about for a long time
*Lisa McInerney, author of 'The Glorious Heresies'*

A shard of authenticity, originality and brilliance
*The Times (Summer Reads: 'Ask a bookseller')*

Terrific debut fiction

Michael Magee's first novel is superb. An emotionally true, keenly observed book that goes deep into the troubled territory of home, family and friendship, returning with a message of love
*David Hayden, author of 'Darker With The Lights On'*

Close to Home does for Belfast what Shuggie Bain did for Glasgow. Its portrayal of a particular kind of masculinity - self-destructive and romantic by turns - is unsparing, funny and desperately sad. Keep an eye on Michael Magee; he's the real deal.
*Patrick Gale, author of 'A Place Called Winter'*

How beautifully Magee has brought his characters to life, and how intricately he has created their world
*Irish Independent (Kevin Power)*

Magee is his own man in his restrained approach . . . I took Sean to my heart and the last line of the book left me with a satsifying shiver
*The Times (John Self)*

The best debut I've read in years - a tender examination of class, masculinity and place
*Nicole Flattery, author of 'Show Them A Good Time'*

Amazingly assured first novel. Magee is too good a writer... Gentle as well as brutal
*The Tablet*

As beautiful as it is brilliant. Reading Close to Home is like crossing a frontier into a new and thrilling territory
*Glenn Patterson, author of 'The International'*

Close To Home announces an exciting new voice - at once open and wary, tender and unyielding - and sharply alive to the pains and discoveries and mysteries of youth
*Colin Barrett, author of 'Young Skins'*

Ringing out clear and true as a bell, it gleams with tenderness and perception. There are few narrators so unassuming and unaffected, yet so full of sharp intelligence
*Wendy Erskine, author of 'Dance Move'*

Precise, compulsive, companionable and genuinely moving. Michael Magee writes a world we see far too little of in contemporary literature. We need books like this
*Seán Hewitt, author of 'All Down Darkness Wide'*

A beautiful and devastating debut novel about political memory, violence, masculinity, and the impossibility of escaping your origins.

A sharp and humane novel about a young man, and a city, caught in the painful throes of reimagining themselves. It rings with authenticity, and the wisdom of hard-won observation and experience - a hymn to the ways in which art can be a lifeline and an escape. Michael Magee's debut is an important addition to the burgeoning new canon of Belfast literature
*Lucy Caldwell, author of 'These Days'*

Compulsively readable - you will need to know how this ends!
*Emilie Pine, author of 'Notes to Self'*

Sharp, immediate, beautiful writing. A vivid portrait of modern Belfast and of how our circumstances shape our lives. Every character is drawn with nuance and complexity, with great precision and attention to detail. I really loved this book
*Rachel Connolly, author of 'Lazy City'*

Artfully crafted, compassionate, precise and unafraid. I loved this book
*Susannah Dickey, author of 'Common Decency'*

Close to Home tracks brilliantly written characters across a vividly drawn Belfast
*Business Post*

It is so refreshing and exciting to read Close to Home . . . when you get to read a story like this it feels as though it is finally articulating so much that is unspoken in your subconscious, and addressing the fact that there’s a whole nation with collective PTSD
*Observer, 'Beach books at the ready!'*

One of the year’s most distinctive and immersive debuts . . . Drawing on his own experiences, Michael Magee refreshes the post-Troubles novel to wrestle with his community’s painful heritage of violence and poverty. It sounds bleak, but Sean’s voice fizzes with life
*The Times, 'Best Novels of 2023'*

Michael Magee still manages to confer on even the ugliest of things (poverty, sectarianism, illness and death) a kind of sharp-edged elegance
*The Times, '100 best summer reads for 2024'*

It's hard to find fault with a debut novel that unfold its storylines and characters with such care, handling themes of class, masculinity, addiction and trauma with both tenderness and a matter-of-factness
*RTÉ, Book of the Week*

Michael Magees Close to Home is yet another brilliant novel to emerge from Northern Ireland, making sense of the impact of the long conflict and the transition to troubled peace; Magee powerfully delineates the psychology of those crushed by betrayal
*Irish Times, 'Best Books of 2023'*

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