The Noise of Time (Paperback)
  • The Noise of Time (Paperback)
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The Noise of Time (Paperback)

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£9.99
Paperback 192 Pages
Published: 05/01/2017
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Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month for January (2017)

ALL HE KNEW was that this was the worst time

He had been standing by the lift for three hours. He was on his fifth cigarette, and his mind was skittering.

Faces, names, memories. Cut peat weighing down his hand. Fields of sunflowers. The smell of carnation oil…

The faces and names of the dead, too.

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block.

He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

So begins Julian Barnes' first novel since his Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending. A story about the collision of art and power, about human compromise, human cowardice and human courage,

Justifiably described as Barnes’ masterpiece, The Noise of Time is part fictionalised biography and displays again Barnes’s seemingly effortless ability to make the personal universal and to do so with brevity, precision and conscience. Encountering the same man at three stages in his life, the power and impact of the individual takes on a larger significance, widened into a contemplation of personal responsibility and the limits of human endurance under the influence of power.

It is a book in dialogue; with the past, with the legacy of totalitarianism and more directly with Frank Kermode’s 1967 work of the same name and with the book both works originate from, the original Noise of Time, memoirs that contain an account of a life of tragic genius, that of Dmitri Shostakovich.

The Noise of Time is the work of a true master and a book that has lasting resonance for the age we find ourselves in and how we consider our own role within it.

It’s an unusual author who can claim to have written a highly praised novel of literary merit partly narrated by a woodworm but Julian Barnes’s diverse output is anything but conventional. His novels range from his debut, the linear coming-of-age story Metroland, to more experimental novels including his breakthrough success Flaubert’s Parrot, A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, the three-person love triangle explored in Talking it Over and Love Etc. and more recent meditations on temporality: The Sense of an Ending (for which he won the 2011 Booker Prize) and The Noise of Time.

Read about the temporal art of Julian Barnes's The Noise of Time on the Waterstones blog.

His fabulous new novel, The Only Story, is out now.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781784703325
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 160 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 16 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

A great novel, Barnes’s masterpiece… Exquisite, intimate detail. He has given us a novel that is powerfully affecting, a condensed masterpiece that traces the lifelong battle of one man’s conscience, one man’s art, with the insupportable exigencies of totalitarianism. - Alex Preston, Observer

Barnes’s sombre, brilliant new novel opens with a scene like something from a story by Chekhov… Gleaming with intelligence and literary flair, this elegantly composed fictional meditation offers a fresh gloss on a musical genius’s collisions and collusions with power. - Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

[Barnes is] a master of the narrative sidestep… Not just a novel about music, but something more like a musical novel… The story itself is structured in three parts that come together like a broken chord. It is a simple but brilliant device, and one that goes right to the heart of this novel. - Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Times

A compelling novel about art and power, courage and cowardice, and the capriciousness of fate…Barnes brilliantly captures the composer’s conflicted state of mind…This book is only 190 pages long, but it packs an extraordinary emotional punch. - Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

The writing in the early pages is magnificent… The reader has the confidence of being in the hands of a master storyteller… Barnes has a good sense of what life was like in the Soviet Union. He captures well the black humor, irony and cynicism. - Orlando Figes, New York Review of Books

Julian Barnes’ novel deftly evokes the complexity of Shostakovich’s relationship with Stalin and the power of his oeuvre… Thick with period detail… The book returns us to the music itself, that immense 20th-century oeuvre that contains everything but confirms nothing. - Hedley Twidle, Financial Times

Gripping… An intimately illuminating montage of Shostakovich’s life… Immediately engaging. - James Lasdun, Guardian

A novel of deceptive slenderness... You expect nothing less from a writer soaked in Flaubert. - Duncan White, Daily Telegraph

A series of elegant insights into the mind of a brilliant artist… Throughout, Barnes offers a surety of touch that few writers can match. - Independent on Sunday

[A] sad, self-lacerating and darkly funny hybrid of a novel. The Noise of Time is both a burrowing meditation on an artist’s lifelong relationship with totalitarian power, fear and compromise, and a fascinating fictional biography of one of the 20th century’s greatest composers… Barnes is a master. - Tod Wodicka, The National

A profound meditation on power and the relationship of art and power… It presents a life, and refrains from judgment. It is a masterpiece of sympathetic understanding… I don’t think [Barnes] has written a finer, more truthful or more profound book. - Allan Massie, The Scotsman

The skilled novelist here brings alive not just the political turmoil that surrounded Shostakovich, but his love for his wives, his love for his children, a vivid counterpoint of artistic freedom and political oppression – the eloquent conjuring of one glass of vodka clinking against another. - The Economist

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“Music and power....”

This book starts with the fears of a young man waiting to be taken away to the Big House. In that place he knows that he will be entering to point of no return . This young man is one of Russia's most prominent... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 166
Georgie Matthews at Windsor

“Music & Communism: If words have been betrayed, is there still hope for music?”

I was already a fan of Julian Barnes before I read this book. But I was familiar with his more overtly humourous titles - "Flaubert's Parrot" and "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters".... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 125

“A Fascinating Fictionalised Biography”

The Noise of Time is the first book he has published since he won the Man-Booker Prize, is a fascinating fictionalised biography of Dmitri Shostakovish. As a historian, and a family that suffered at the hands of... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 122

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