This is the 2006 winner of the Booker Prize by the Scottish author John Banville. I should start by saying that this is a relatively limited novel in a lot of ways, but has a very distinct and earnest narrator. I feel like the characterization and the writing are relatively strong, but the novel itself is not particularly remarkable or memorable. Had it not won the Booker Prize (and it probably should have lost to Kazuo Ishiguru’s Never Let Me Go) it would have faded from consciousness like many of the other novels on the list. In fact, it’s far weaker than Iris Murdoch’s The Sea The Sea, which is at least twice as good.
It’s about a recent widower sitting by the seaside in a BnB trying to drink himself to death as he reflects on his life, his daughter, his dead wife, and all the other people he’s ever met and interacted with. It’s written almost as a godless version of Gilead, another novel that came out about the same time which is much stronger.
This novel does have some interesting writing. His memory slips, and he corrects himself, and he considers different ways of thinking of things. He’s also very honest about his thoughts and feelings, and he puts language to some of the uncomfortable thoughts we often have, without giving voice to them.
Also, and this is extra, but the other day some one scammed poor old John Banville by calling him and telling him he won the Nobel Prize. He apparently told a bunch of his friends and family and then had to call them back.