Close to Home by Michael Magee: austere, thrillingly alive and pure west Belfast

Michael Magee. Photo by Kate Donaldson

Kevin Power

Michael Magee’s debut novel, Close to Home, had its origins in a letter to a friend – specifically, a letter to the writer and editor Thomas Morris, who told him to start off “at any point in my life and go from there”. Three months later, Magee had the first draft of his book. (There are worse ways to write a novel.) A certain quality of epistolary intimacy survives in the published text; also, an unmistakable atmosphere of confessional autobiography.