Any book of stories from Bernard MacLaverty is a cause for celebration, but Matters of Life and Death is more than that, as it is - without question - one of the finest contemporary examples of the short story as a genre.
Beginning with the sudden, nauseating terror of a family caught up in an explosion of shocking sectarian violence and ending with the white-out of an Iowa blizzard and a different kind of fear, Matters of Life and Death is a book about bonds and connections, made and broken, secret and known. Vivid, beautifully controlled and written with effortless skill and empathy, these stories are object lessons in the art of short fiction.
"These are stories in the easiest and most pleasurable sense of the word. MacLaverty's work is in a line from Chekhov, via Frank O'Connor"
"I have not read anything as good for a long time"
"Eleven exquisite examples of the genre... MacLaverty writes with consumamte skill... This is a book to cherish and one to read and re-read with pleasure in the skilful craft of its composition"
"MacLaverty is an exhilarating, tender, humorous wirter... who can set a scene and create a character with Chekhovian delicacy and economy... He reminds us that although life is a dangerous, painful business, we should never despair"
"This stupendous new book - crucial, shattering sentences - that express, modestly, monumentally the achievement of this extraordinary writer. He is in behind your eyes before you feel his thinking knife ...Matters of Life and Death is a great book. The explicit presiding literary presence is Chekhov. Not reached nor striven for, innate, rather"