The bloody era of sectarian violence between nationalists and Unionists known as the Troubles that marked Northern Ireland from 1969 until the late '90s comes boldly to life in Louise Dean's astonishing second novel, This Human Season. From her scrupulously fashioned prose emerges a sprawling saga, structured in alternating chapters, of two Belfast families—the Catholic Morans and the Protestant Dunns—torn from without by their warring loyalties and from within by their own demons during the two months leading up to Christmas 1979.
The English-born Dean—her first novel, Becoming Strangers, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize—indelibly illuminates a cityscape held hostage to its divisive history:
In East Belfast, the sides of the pavements were painted a block of red, a block of blue, a block of
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