Internationally renowned author Tony Macaulay is set to launch his debut novel, Belfast Gate this Monday (September 16).
Known for books such as Paperboy and All Growed Up, Tony, who now lives in Portstewart, is hoping Belfast Gate, allows ‘people to consider the possibility of a future without walls’.
Set at a fictional peace gate in the peace wall in West Belfast, it is a satirical comedy drama about a group of Catholic and Protestant women who start a campaign to take down Belfast’s 50-year-old peace walls. With their cry of Get Our Gate Open – the GO-GO campaign with the GO-GO girls is born.
On the 15th anniversary of the erection of the peace walls, in the era of Brexit and Trump’s border wall, the themes in Tony Macaulay’s laugh-out-loud novel resonate far beyond Northern Ireland.
It’s Belfast in 2019 and despite more than 20 years of peace, scores of so-called peace walls continue to separate Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.
The tells of Jean Beattie’s grief which turns to anger when police refuse to open the peace gate at the end of her street to allow her best friend’s funeral procession through to her church on the other side of the peace wall. The gate remains closed because local youths, led by Sam on one side and Seamie on the other, are recreational rioting. Comforted by her friends Roberta, Bridget and Patricia from the cross-community pensioners’ club, Jean vows the gate will be opened.
Tony was inspired to write Belfast Gate through his work with a cross community women’s group at Forthspring Intercommunity Group. Forthspring has been quietly breaking down barriers across the peace line in West Belfast for the past 20 years. It’s situated on the peace line on the Springfield Road just across the road from where Tony’s father grew up. The group meet in the old Springfield Road Methodist Church building, where his father went to Sunday school.
Looking forward to the launch of Belfast Gate, Tony said: “Belfast Gate is totally different from anything I have written and published before. It’s my first book set in the present day and it’s written in the present tense. It’s the voice of a narrator, a fictional story rather than a personal memoir. However, the tone, humour and underlying themes are similar to my previous books.”
Tony added: “After more than 20 years of peace, the peace walls continue to divide the good people of Belfast, as they have done for 50 years. I want people to consider the possibility of a future without walls and, importantly, to laugh them down.”
Belfast Gate will be available to purchase on Monday, September 16 and is priced at £10. It is Tony’s first publication under his own imprint ‘so it is’. Available in paperback, ebook and audiobook from all good bookstores and online, including Amazon Kinde and Audible audiobook.