Synopses & Reviews
A coming-of-age story of a northern Irish boy getting out from under the thumb of mother, church, and country.
Set in Belfast in the late sixties, Bernard MacLaverty's new novel takes us into Martin Brennan's last semester of high school, when he finds old friendships tested and is forced to face the unknown. Before he can become an adult, Martin must unravel the sacred and contradictory mysteries of religion, science, and sex; he must learn the value of friendship; but most of all he must pass his exams at any cost.
Celebrating the desire to speak and the need to say nothing, The Anatomy School moves from the enforced silence of Martin's Catholic school retreat, through the hilarious tea-and-biscuits repartee of his eccentric elders, to the awkward wit and loose profanity of his two friends the charismatic Kavanagh and the subversive Blaise Foley. This absorbing, often funny novel reminds us of the high anxieties and deep joys of learning to find a place in the world.
"MacLaverty transforms the generic coming-of-age formula into a revelatory albeit lengthy read....MacLaverty has been down this road before (Cal), and all too often the reader can predict the next scene in the narrative, but despite the familiarity of the journey, he provides plenty of atmospheric background to make this heartfelt story worth the ride." Publishers Weekly
"[MacLaverty] writes with an easy charm and perfectly captures life in 1960s Belfast. He invests the smallest characters with great wit and humanity, creating a moving, rueful tale." Brendan Dowling, Booklist
SET IN BELFAST in the late sixties, Bernard MacLaverty's latest novel takes us into Martin Brennan's final semester of high school, when he finds old friendships tested and is forced to face the unknown future. Before he can become an adult, Martin must unravel the sacred and contradictory mysteries of religion, science, and sex; he must learn the value of friendship; but most of all he must pass his exams--at any cost. With characteristic wise humor (Publishers Weekly), MacLaverty moves beyond the cloistered realm of school to capture the rhythms and pressures of provincial life, as well as [Martin's] desire to overcome them. (Denver Post). This absorbing, often funny novel turns high anxieties and pain into well wrought fiction. MacLaverty has a wider vision, greater depth and technical craft than J. D. Salinger, a more subtle style than William Golding and a moral imagination to match that of James Joyce ([Toronto] Globe and Mail).
About the Author
Bernard MacLaverty lives in Glasgow, and has published numerous books, including Lamb, Cal, and Grace Notes, which was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize.