An ambitious and compelling first novel about a key moment in Irish history
‘I think that, though good historical novels are rare in themselves, much rarer are good historiographical novels, stories that reflect on their own workings and examine the processes they describe; this is one of those select few. The triumph is that it is not only a deeply intelligent and self-aware novel, it is also entertaining from the first page to the last.’ Hilary Mantel
November 1917. With tensions in Ireland, war in Europe and revolution in Russia, Victor Lennon returns to his home village after a long exile. Radicalized by his experiences in the Dublin Lockout and Easter Rising, Victor is a hero to many but a danger to some.
Those closest to Victor know his true nature: his father, Pius, now drinking himself to death; his oldest friend, Charlie, wounded in the trenches; and the love of his life, Maggie, who he left behind years before. But soon Victor and the fearsome parish priest, Stanislaus Benedict, are on a collision course, with the very souls of the people caught between religion and socialism.
After the Lockout is a first novel of tremendous ambition and achievement, and McCann expertly tells his story from the perspectives of these titanic opposing forces. It is a conflict emblematic of a recurring faultline in Irish history, and of one more eternal and universal: between hope and experience; between ideals and human weakness.
Read an extract here