First published in 1983, this lyrical novel, superficially straightforward but full of stories within stories, first brought Bernard MacLaverty's work to public attention. In the novel, a young Irish Republican Army operative who wants to break the cycle of violence seeks out a woman whose Ulster policeman husband he helped to murder. As their relationship grows, so do Cal's guilt and sorrow, until, in the end, he is forced to make a sacrifice of himself in order to gain redemption. Rich in ideas and history, this book helps us understand the situation in Northern Ireland--which "is not just there," MacLaverty has remarked, "as a colorful background."
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"Simple humanity, eloquently caught....Though Cal
is a bleak novel, there is a flicker of lyricism running through it, like the sun shining through the shattered windows of a ruined church" (New York Times
"To fashion a short, telling novel out of the hideous complexities of Northern Ireland takes narrative skill of a high order. In Cal
Bernard MacLaverty has managed to do it superbly" (Nina Bawden)
"It performs the remarkable feat of compressing into its short span both a doomed love affair and an account of the impossibility of living, in the circumstances of that doomed province, without redemption and without punishment. MacLaverty has a true feeling for tragedy'" (Anita Brookner)