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The Seaby John Banville
2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction
Banville's fluid prose glides over the pages of The Sea, a rich story filled with heart and bittersweet longing. I pored over the luminescent descriptions of time and place and the beautiful characters that make up this world. Clearly the Man Booker was well deserved.
Synopses & Reviews
In this luminous new novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory, John Banville introduces us to Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child to cope with the recent loss of his wife. It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, gorgeously written novel — among the finest we have had from this masterful writer.
"Banville's magnificent new novel, which won this year's Man Booker Prize and is being rushed into print by Knopf, presents a man mourning his wife's recent death-and his blighted life. 'The past beats inside me like a second heart,' observes Max Morden early on, and his return to the seaside resort where he lost his innocence gradually yields the objects of his nostalgia. Max's thoughts glide swiftly between the events of his wife's final illness and the formative summer, 50 years past, when the Grace family-father, mother and twins Chloe and Myles-lived in a villa in the seaside town where Max and his quarreling parents rented a dismal 'chalet.' Banville seamlessly juxtaposes Max's youth and age, and each scene is rendered with the intense visual acuity of a photograph ('the mud shone blue as a new bruise'). As in all Banville novels, things are not what they seem. Max's cruelly capricious complicity in the sad history that unfolds, and the facts kept hidden from the reader until the shocking denouement, brilliantly dramatize the unpredictability of life and the incomprehensibility of death. Like the strange high tide that figures into Max's visions and remembrances, this novel sweeps the reader into the inexorable waxing and waning of life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A peculiar and profound satisfaction comes from experiencing the prose of John Banville. Like some aged liquor, potent and malty, his writing demands to be imbibed in appreciative sips, little by little." The Independent on Sunday
"Unlike so many novels, I was forced to read with the dictionary at my side. The Sea satisfies because it gives the reader...a rigorous workout." Oregonian
"What The Sea offers in abundance is beautiful writing." Denver Post
"They say no critic can write great fiction, and certainly great critics have produced some conspicuously failed novels. But a great novelist can turn even a critic...into a compelling protagonist." Los Angeles Times
About the Author
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. The author of thirteen previous novels, he has been the recipient of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Dublin.
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