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Levels of Lifeby Julian Barnes
Synopses & Reviews
Fifteen months after the publication of his phenomenally successful novel The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes now gives us his most powerfully moving book yet, beginning in the nineteenth century and leading seamlessly into an entirely personal account of loss — making Levels of Life an immediate classic on the subject of grief.
"You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed..." Julian Barnes's new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. One of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize described him as "an unparalleled magus of the heart." This book confirms that opinion.
"British novelist Barnes (The Sense of an Ending) offers a delicately oblique, emotionally tricky geography of grief, which he has constructed from his experience since the sudden death in 2008 of his beloved wife of 30 years, literary agent Pat Kavanagh. The 'levels' of the title — a high, even, and deep 'moral space' — play out in the juxtaposition of two subjects that are seemingly incongruous but potentially marvelous and sublime together, as Barnes delineates through his requisite and always fascinating historical examples: the 19th-century French photographer Nadar's attempts to unite the evolving science of aeronautics ('the sin of height') with the art of photography for the first astounding aerial views of Earth; and English traveler and avid balloonist Colonel Fred Burnaby's passion for the bold, adventurist French actress Sarah Bernhardt. The shocking death of Barnes's wife left him feeling flattened and suicidal. In his grieving turmoil, he questions assumptions about death and mourning, loss and memory, and he grapples eloquently with the ultimate moral conundrum: how to live? (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“An unforgettable book….Visceral, exquisitely crafted, thoughtful and heartbreaking.” Ellan Allfrey, NPR Best Books of the Year
“Deeply stirring....The metaphoric intensity of what has come before gives Barnes's account of his grief a fierce and fiery kind of momentum.” The Boston Globe
“Searching, angry, plangent and beautiful....Only a writer of Barnes's stature could sublimate personal pain into something artistically exquisite.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A moving tribute to a love and lifelong partner, an examination of grief that personalizes universal emotion effortlessly and beautifully.” New York Daily News
“Barnes has distilled his grief—refined and compacted it—and the result is a powerful dirge and slender but shapely work of art.” The Daily Beast
“As eloquent as it is soul-shuddering....A book about the death of a spouse that is unlike any other — book or spouse — and thus illuminates the singularity as well as the commonality of grieving.” Kirkus (starred review)
You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed . . .”
Julian Barnes’s new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. One of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize described him as “an unparalleled magus of the heart.” This book confirms that opinion.
“A remarkable narrative that is as raw in its emotion as it is characteristically elegant in its execution.” —Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
About the Author
Julian Barnes is the author of eleven novels, three books of short stories, and three collections of journalism. In addition to the Man Booker Prize, his other honors include the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in London.
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