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“Creditable first novel. #WW2 in Italy.” Margaret Atwood on Twitter

“Montreal Writer Matthew Murphy’s debut novel is told in prose that is muscular, explicit, disturbing, and yet so poetic it can leave the reader dazed and breathless. … A Beckoning War is the product of an amazing new talent.” Paul Gessell, Quill & Quire

“Murphy has a poetic style that at times follows Hemingway’s stream-of-consciousness path into a shell-shocked soldier’s fevered dreams. He vividly and movingly tells the story of many frightened young men who went off to fight what they thought would be a glorious war but found only pain and suffering.” Publishers Weekly

“Rendered in beautifully poetic prose… An empathetic yet flawed man drives this wonderful novel, the first from an author ready for a glittering literary career… All is done in exquisite style that places the readers squarely in the action.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This is a startlingly good book… Mr. Murphy manages to maintain an even, constant tension in his writing, keepIng us firmly inside Jim’s mind as he deals with the horrors of warfare, the loneliness of command and the helplessness he feels when it comes to his estranged wife, thousands of miles away… A Beckoning War immediately goes on my long list for “The Very Best” Awards for 2016.” The Miramichi Reader.

“Murphy offers us the mindset of an earlier generation when wars were seen not only as just but essential to preserving what is right and good in the world, and the writing of the annals of history belonged to the victorious, and the victorious alone. While certain aspects of Murphy's work might not appeal to those who have long since left behind those beliefs, its realistic portrayal of military campaigns, everyday soldier life and insights into the thinking of the Canadian wartime generation are indeed very well done and are the mark of a mature writer.” Ian Thomas Shaw, The Ottawa Review of Books

“It is this choice to frame the experience of war through the consequences it might have for one’s connection to others – not just one’s body and psyche – that distinguishes Murphy’s novel, taking it beyond an adept representation of battlefield horrors. Even as readers are gripped by the desire to know whether McFarlane lives or dies, they also know that the first losses took place before he ever entered the battlefield, when he found himself enticed by a war there was no way to understand without experiencing. The question of why he answered its siren call remains almost impossible to answer.” Danielle Barkley, The Montreal Review of Books

“A beautiful debut with a hopeful, life-affirming ending.” Naomi MacKinnon, Consumed by Ink


Writer's Block, All Lit Up, July 2016 (Interview with All Lit Up)

The War Within: The Mental Strain of Modern Warfare (5 books recommended by me on

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