Set in the Northern Ireland of the 1980’s, Cal tells the story of a young Catholic man living in a Protestant area. For Cal, some choices are devastatingly simple: he can work in an abattoir that nauseates him or join the dole queue; he can brood on his past or plan a future with Marcella.
Springing out of the fear and violence of Ulster, Cal is a haunting love story that unfolds in a land where tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dark.
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
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
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’