Louise Dean

This Human Season

Louise Dean author

This Human Season

It is November, 1979. Kathleen's son Sean has just been transferred to Belfast's most notorious prison - Long Kesh, recently renamed the Maze. Kathleen knows that he will join the other prisoners on their non-cooperation protest, known as the Blanket. Rumours of a hunger strike are beginning to circulate.

John Dunn has finished twenty years in the British Army. After three tours of Belfast, he's found a girl and a house and a job as a prison guard. In the weeks before Christmas, both Kathleen and John will find themselves in impossible situations. Both will have to find a way to survive when everything they love is in danger of being destroyed.

This Human Season is Louise Dean’s second novel set in Belfast, Ireland, during The Troubles of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It was widely praised by critics internationally and described as ‘astonishing’ by reviewers from The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom to BookForum in the United States.


‘Breathtaking…This Human Season is a novel that confirms the arrival of a significant voice in British fiction’. The Observer

'Magnificent.' Arena.

‘Not a wasted moment in this terrifying and terribly funny book.' Kirkus Starred Review.

'This is a fine and thoughtful historical novel which manages to find humour and decency in the most awful of places.' The Sunday Times

‘Dean is an audacious arrival in British fiction. She is unafraid to tackle unsexy or unsafe material, or to stray beyond the domestic sphere.’ The Guardian

‘Dean is brave enough to offer the reader a glimpse of real hope…She is also an eloquent architect of the strengths and shapes of passion…Ranging across this desperate landscape is a novel which captures a community’s resilience and it’s humour full of broken glass.’ Ali Smith, Times Literary Supplement

'Louise Dean's pitch-perfect second novel, ''This Human Season,'' recreates the time of the troubles ... With remarkable evenhandedness, she evokes the day-to-day struggles of English and Irish, Protestant and Roman Catholic, as they try to get on with their lives while the world around them goes insane ...' New York Times

'With clear-eyed compassion, and with all the resources of the novelist's art, Louise Dean leads us through those terrible days when for a while Belfast was a vortex for the worst of the world's cruelty and pain' J.M. Coetzee

'Audacious . . . remarkable. That an English woman born after the Troubles began should take one of its most grisly episodes—the 'dirty protests' in the Maze prison—as the focus of a compelling family drama is ambitious to say the least. That she should pull it off with such compassion and perceptive detail is nothing short of astonishing."The Telegraph

'Dean mercilessly heightens the suspense while managing at the same time to confer complexity and even grace on her characters and on their forbidding city.' The Boston Globe

'Dean's great achievement is showing us how ordinary people can go on with their lives in the midst of extraordinary brutality and how a few are able to do so with compassion and hope.' People

'How everyday people become mortal enemies is both the central mystery and tragedy of this intelligent book.' Entertainment Weekly