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About the Author

Michael Hughes grew up in Keady, Co. Armagh, and now lives in London. He attended St Patrick's Grammar School in Armagh and read English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford before training in theatre at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. He has worked for many years as an actor under the professional name Michael Colgan, and he also teaches creative writing. His first novel, The Countenance Divine, was published by John Murray in 2016.


A re-telling of Homer's Iliad set in Northern Ireland; it's a gritty thriller complete with all the violence and beauty of Ancient Greece. This powerful novel is full of blistering writing that leaps off the page and is perhaps the first great fiction about The Troubles since Dermot Healy - BoundlessI couldn't put Country down. Tears through the pages at a cracking pace with sharp, smart prose and excellent dialogue - Paul McVeighCountry is first and foremost a clever literary exercise. Happily, it also works well as a brutal and gripping thriller in its own right . . . a complex saga filled with passionate arguments, vicious double crosses and eerie premonitions of death . . . a consistently engrossing read, written in Ulster-flavoured prose as rich and evocative as you would expect from a professional thespian . . . Hughes has plenty of intelligent things to say about national identity and the process by which war slowly transforms decent human beings into savages. As a reminder of what tends to fill political vacuums in Northern Ireland, meanwhile, Country could hardly have been better timed - which is why every member of the suspended Stormont Assembly should add it to their summer reading list - Irish IndependentHughes's inventiveness in creating Irish equivalents for the characters and plot moments of The Iliad is consistently thrilling . . . By enlisting the visceral power of The Iliad to illustrate the violence of the Troubles and using plain-spoken Irish voices that are appropriate to the period without losing a sense of the story's timelessness, Hughes has written a striking, memorable book - Literary ReviewWith Homer's Illiad as the baseplate for this 1990s novel, Hughes reaches deep into the country and grasps something furious, elemental and dark...This is a hard, rigorous and necessary book which grinds out its beauty as the song cycles of empire and resistance fall silent, choked in their own blood - Irish TimesPart of the thrill is recognising the correspondences between the characters and Homer's originals . . . the language is enough to keep you enthralled . . . Hughes's achievement is to prove that Homer remains ignoble, messy and horribly familiar - GuardianDaring, inventive and ambitious . . . The language is enough to keep you enthralled . . . a violent pounding demotic as memorable in its way as Homer's hexameter - GuardianIncredibly original and illuminating . . . an absolute joy to read . . . Hughes' prose style is extraordinary . . . I really, really loved it - BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review

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