From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of and a new novel-at once trenchant, witty, and shattering-about the intricacies of artistic creation and theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.
Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme, is a painter of some renown, and a petty thief who does not steal for profit and has never before been caught. But he's pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well lately. Having recognized the "man-killing crevasse" that exists between what he sees and any representation he might make of it-any attempt to make what he sees his own-he's stopped painting. And his last purloined possession-aquired the last time he felt the "secret shiver of bliss" in thievery-has been discovered. The fact that it was the wife of the man who was, perhaps, his best friend, has compelled him to run away: from his mistress, his home, his wife, from whatever remains of his impulse to paint and from the tragedy that haunts him, and to sequester himself in the house where he was born, trying to uncover in himself the answer to how and why things have turned out as they did. Excavating memories of family, of places he's called home, and of the way he has apprehended the world around him ("no matter what else is going on, one of my eyes is always swivelling towards the world beyond"), Ollie reveals the very essence of a man who, in some way, has always been waiting to be rescued from himself.
On a languid midsummer’s day in the countryside, old Adam Godley, a renowned theoretical mathematician, is dying. His family gathers at his bedside: his son, young Adam, struggling to maintain his marriage to a radiantly beautiful actress; his nineteen-year-old daughter, Petra, filled with voices and visions as she waits for the inevitable; their mother, Ursula, whose relations with the Godley children are strained at best; and Petra’s “young man”—very likely more interested in the father than the daughter — who has arrived for a superbly ill-timed visit.
But the Godley family is not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a family of mischievous immortals — among them, Zeus, who has his eye on young Adam’s wife; Pan, who has taken the doughy, perspiring form of an old unwelcome acquaintance; and Hermes, who is the genial and omniscient narrator: “We too are petty and vindictive,” he tells us, “just like you, when we are put to it.” As old Adam’s days on earth run down, these unearthly beings start to stir up trouble, to sometimes wildly unintended effect. .
Blissfully inventive and playful, rich in psychological insight and sensual detail, is at once a gloriously earthy romp and a wise look at the terrible, wonderful plight of being human — a dazzling novel from one of the most widely admired and acclaimed writers at work today.
A collection of short stories from the early years of Man Booker Prize-winning author John Banville’s career, explores the passionate emotions — fear, jealousy, desire — that course beneath the surface of everyday life. From a couple at risk of being torn apart by the allure of wealth to an old man’s descent into nature, the tales in this collection showcase the talents that launched Banville onto the literary scene. Offering a unique insight into the mind of “one of the great living masters of English-language prose” (), these nine haunting sketches stand alone as canny observations on the turbulence of the human condition.
They took everything from me. Everything.’ So says the central character of Nightspawn, John Banville’s elusive, first novel, in which the author rehearses now familiar attributes: his humour, ironies, and brilliant knowing. In the arid setting of the Aegean, Ben White indulges in an obsessive quest to assemble his ‘story’ and to untangle his relationships with a cast of improbable figures. Banville’s subversive, Beckettian fiction embraces themes of freedom and betrayal, and toys with an implausible plot, the stuff of an ordinary ‘thriller’ shadowed by political intrigue. In this elaborate artifact, Banville’s characters ‘sometimes lose the meaning of things, and everything is just. . funny’. There begins their search for ‘the magic to combat any force’.
A historian, trying to finish a long-overdue book on Isaac Newton, rent a cottage not far by train from Dublin for the summer. All he need, he thinks, is a few weeks of concentrated work. Why, he must unravel, did Newton break down in 1693? What possessed him to write that strange letter to his friend John Locke? But in the long seeping summer days, old sloth and present reality take over.
'Banville is superb…there are not many historical novels of which it can be said that they illuminate both the time that forms their subject matter and the time in which they are read: Doctor Copernicus is among the very best of them' — "The Economist". The work of Nicholas Koppernigk, better known as Copernicus, shattered the medieval view of the universe and led to the formulation of the image of the solar system we know today. Here his life is powerfully evoked in a novel that offers a vivid portrait of a man of painful reticence, haunted by a malevolent brother and baffled by the conspiracies that rage around him and his ideas while he searches for the secret of life. 'Banville writes novels of complex patterning, with grace, precision and timing' — "Guardian". 'With his fastidious wit and exquisite style, John Banville is the heir to Nabokov' — "Daily Telegraph". 'A tour de force: a fictional evocation of the great astronomer which is exciting, beautifully written and astonishingly redolent of the late medieval world' — "The Times".
The Man Booker Prize-winning author of gives us a brilliant, profoundly moving new novel about an actor in the twilight of his life and his career: a meditation on love and loss, and on the inscrutable immediacy of the past in our present lives.
One part Nietzsche, one part Humbert Humbert, and a soupcon of Milton's Lucifer, Axel Vander, the dizzyingly unreliable narrator of John Banville's masterful new novel, is very old, recently widowed, and the bearer of a fearsome reputation as a literary dandy and bully. A product of the Old World, he is also an escapee from its conflagrations, with the wounds to prove it. And everything about him is a lie.
Now those lies have been unraveled by a mysterious young woman whom Vander calls "Miss Nemesis." They are to meet in Turin, a city best known for its enigmatic shroud. Is her purpose to destroy Vander or to save him-or simply to show him what lies beneath the shroud in which he has wrapped his life? A splendidly moving exploration of identity, duplicity, and desire, Shroud is Banville's most rapturous performance to date.
Alex Vander is a fraud, big-time. An elderly professor of literature and a scholarly writer with an international reputation, he has neither the education nor the petit bourgeois family in Antwerp that he has claimed. As the splenetic narrator of this searching novel by Banville (Eclipse), he admits early on that he has lied about everything in his life, including his identity, which he stole from a friend of his youth whose mysterious death will resonate as the narrator reflects on his past. Having fled Belgium during WWII, he established himself in Arcady, Calif., with his long-suffering wife, whose recent death has unleashed new waves of guilt in the curmudgeonly old man. Guilt and fear have long since turned Vander into a monster of rudeness, violent temper, ugly excess, alcoholism and self-destructiveness. His web of falsehoods has become an anguishing burden, and his sense of displacement ("I am myself and also someone else") threatens to unhinge him altogether. Then comes a letter from a young woman, Cass Cleave, who claims to know all the secrets of his past. Determined to destroy her, an infuriated Vander meets Cass in Turin and discovers she is slightly mad. Even so, he begins to hope that Cass, his nemesis, could be the instrument of his redemption. Banville's lyrical prose, taut with intelligence, explores the issues of identity and morality with which the novel reverberates. At the end, Vander understands that some people in his life had noble motives for keeping secrets, and their sacrifices make the enormity of his deception even more shameful. This bravura performance will stand as one of Banville's best works.
A scholar and born liar, the elderly but still contentious Axel Vander is about to have his cover blown when an equally contentious young woman enters his life. Banville's lucky 13th novel.
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38 year old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbor. Freddie is an aimless drifter, and though he is a perceptive observer of himself and his surroundings, he is largely amoral. The end of the novel makes it unclear whether anything Freddie has said is true. When asked by the inspector how much of it is true, Freddie responds, "True, Inspector? All of it. None of it. Only the shame." The Book of Evidence won Ireland 's Guinness Peat Aviation Award in 1989, and was short-listed for Britain 's Booker Prize. In reviewing the book, Publishers Weekly compared Banville's writing to that of Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky. The writing style continues Banville's attempt to give his prose "the kind of denseness and thickness that poetry has".