"Breath" is set in a country recovering from a brutal and divisive civil war between north and south. The war may be over but people's memories are long and hatreds are slow to fade. A teenage boy, Jamie, is knocked off his bike and dies in a city street. His father, Geoff Andrews, manager of the main hospital, is asked if he will allow one of Jamie's lungs to be removed and flown north for a transplant. He agrees, and the mercy mission begins: six hours to get the lung out of one body and into another.As the night unfolds, and the plane travels through storms across the war-ravaged country and over the border, we see the drama from three different perspectives: Andrews, grieving for the son he perhaps never knew well enough - this one single death overwhelming, even after the deaths of so many; the lung's recipient, Baras, an old man fighting for breath, and life - a northerner with blood on his hands; and in the turbulent sky between them, Jude, the young pilot, who is closest to Jamie - or at least to his breath, his spirit, his voice.
A novel about violence and vengeance, and what must take their place, "Breath" is a moving and timely examination of the fractures of war and grief and the long struggle towards peace and reconciliation.
Winner of Age Book of the Year: Fiction 2008.
Michael Symmons Roberts has published four collections of poetry, including Corpus, which won the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award. His first novel, Patrick's Alphabet, was published in 2006. He is a frequent collaborator with the composer James MacMillan and is also an award-winning radio writer and documentary film-maker.