The Good Son


Winner of The Polari Prize & the McCrea Literary Award
Brighton’s City Reads 2016 & World Book Night 2017


New Book Cover

The Good  Click to buy

The Good Son

Mickey Donnelly is smart, which isn’t a good thing in his part of town. Despite having a dog called Killer and being in love with the girl next door, everyone calls him ‘gay’. It doesn’t help that his best friend is his little sister, Wee Maggie, and that everyone knows he loves his Ma more than anything in the world. He doesn’t think much of his older brother Paddy and really doesn’t like his Da. He dreams of going to America, taking Wee Maggie and Ma with him, to get them away from Belfast and Da. Mickey realises it’s all down to him. He has to protect Ma from herself. And sometimes… you have to be a bad boy to be a good son.



Shortlisted: The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award
Shortlisted: Prix du Roman Cezam Inter-CE, 
Finalist for The People’s Book Prize
ELLE Magazine Best Books of 2015
The Irish Independent Top Reads of 2015.
The Reading Agency Staff Picks Best of 2015
Wales Arts Review – Fiction of the Year
Number 1 Beach Read The Pool
A Gransnet Best Christmas Read for 2015
Savidge Reads and Pam Reader Blogs Books of the Year


The Good Son gave us one of the most engaging protagonists of the year in Mickey Donnelly, who occupies a space between whimsy and horror in Troubles-era Belfast.” Bailey’s Prize-winner Lisa McInerney Top Reads of 2015 The Irish Independent

“When I think of exceptional working-class novels from the last few years, I inevitably think of Kit de Waal’s My Name Is Leon and Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son.” The Observer

“Paul McVeigh has written a first novel of beautiful generosity, poignant in the delicate manner in which he evokes the brutality of an era. A striking fresco, mixing historical upheavals and hardships of a family shattered.” Le Monde

“Blackly hilarious (with) one of the most endearing and charming characters I’ve come across in a long time.” ELLE Magazine Best of 2015

“Heartbreaking… gripping.” The Guardian     “Revelatory and stunning.” Huffington Post

‘Tragic yet funny; sad yet redemptive; this sometimes hilarious novel encapsulates childhood in times of violence. Mickey will steal your heart.’ Irish Examiner

“A highly commendable debut, convincing in its realism.” The Independent

“Told vividly and with grim humor… McVeigh’s lush and, against all probability colourful novel from a black and white world bears the utopia that even in dark times, the hope can not be defeated.” Die Welt

“The Belfast author’s spirited debut delivers a real sense of a broken family living in a broken society… well drawn and affecting… poignant… convincing… alarmingly real.” The Irish Times

“The backdrop is one of poverty, paranoia and violence, both sectarian and domestic…there’s no nostalgia in the depiction of simmering brutality and intense claustrophobia…a full-colour close-up of life in a no-go area.” The Guardian

“A triumph of empathy and the understanding of human dynamics, yet to say that is to vastly understate the range of McVeigh’s writing. Mickey is the funniest, most endearing human being… This novel envelops the reader with its humanity and its down-to-earth humour leaves you laughing.” Booktrust

“McVeigh traces the physical geography of Ardoyne with as much precision as he depicts the geography of the human heart. (The Good Son) has something of the spirit of Dickens or Zola, transformed for our times. Gritty realism with a human face. Not only is it hugely enjoyable, but it also conveyed to me more of the atmosphere of the Troubles than any number of factual accounts.” Pank Magazine


“Paul McVeigh’s debut new novel is everything its fans say it is – funny, raw, sometimes distressing, always wonderfully entertaining. The young Mickey Donnelly is a superb creation, his thoughts and feelings bubbling onto the page in an immaculately-rendered voice, droll, cheeky and authentic. McVeigh renders a child’s view of a very adult nightmare with bewitching empathy. You will love every moment of it.” Jonathan Coe author of The Rotters’ Club & What a Carve Up!

“Pungently funny and shot through with streaks of aching sadness. Scenes from it are going round in my head months later. Paul McVeigh’s is an original voice of which I, for one, can’t wait to hear more.” Patrick Gale A Place Called Winter & Notes From an Exhibition

“Both dancing and disquieting, complex and vivid, I devoured it in a day, but I’ve thought about it for many, many more.” Bailey Prize-winner Lisa McInerney The Glorious Heresies

“One of those books that’s written in such an accomplished and natural way that it seems not like a book at all, but a perfect, fully-formed rendering of reality through another’s eyes. It’s a triumph of storytelling, an absolute gem.” Donal Ryan The Spinning Heart

‘Paul McVeigh brilliantly achieves a very difficult thing: he turns a coming-of-age tale into high art. Mickey Donnelly navigates The Troubles like Huck Finn navigates the Mississippi River letting us see the human condition through penetratingly fresh eyes. The Good Son is a work of genius from a splendid writer.’ Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler

“One of the most beguiling and appealing narrative voices I’ve read in a long time. Funny, heartbreaking, and insightful.. I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed it immensely.” Irish Book Award-winner Louise O’Neill Only Ever Yours & Asking For It.

‘I was knocked out by this stunningly intelligent, compassionate, and mordantly funny debut novel. A brilliant portrait of both political and  familial unrest, and Paul McVeigh is a wildly important new talent.’ Laura van den Berg The Isle of Youth and Find Me

‘A vivid, poignant and thrilling tale of troubled boyhood, The Good Son is a lot better than good – it’s outstanding.’ Granta Best Young Novelist, Toby Litt

“Mickey Donnelly is one of those characters you believe in with all your heart, and after I’d finished reading, I found I really missed his voice. The Good Son is a robust, funny, and truly charming first novel.’ Man Booker shortlisted Alison Moore The Lighthouse.

“A compelling debut, captivating & poignant.” Danielle McLaughlin winner of a Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction and The Sunday Times/Audible Short Story Award.

“Beautifully written, heartbreaking story… There’s something very brave about the writing and wild about the character.” Liz Nugent Lying in Wait & Unravelling Oliver

Here’s an informal reading of an edited version of the first chapter.