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Patterson, Glenn

life belfast past violence

(British, 1961– )

Patterson was born and brought up in Belfast, and taken together his novels present a fascinating and detailed picture of life there over the past forty years. Begin with Fat Lad (1992), which follows the life of a Belfast man returning to work there after ten years in England, moving between glimpses of his parents’ and grandparents’ lives, to his own matter-of-fact memories of childhood, of violence on the streets, of his father's abuse (itself a response to the violence outside) and his haphazard present-day life, with sexual and emotional entanglements which seem beyond his control. The way in which a life is shaped by its past is brilliantly revealed, and the language is witty and utterly engaging. Move on to Burning Your Own (1988), Patterson's first novel, an account of a Belfast boyhood; and then to The International (1999), set in a Belfast hotel on the eve of the troubles in 1967, and describing a day in the life of an apolitical, non-religious young barman there, embracing that historical moment in the city with humour and irony.

Bernard MacLaverty, Roddy Doyle, Deirdre Madden. See IRELAND  JR

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