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Shroudby John Banville
Synopses & Reviews
Axel Vander is an old man, in ill health, recently widowed, a scholar renowned for both his unquestionable authority and the ferocity and violence that often mark his conduct. He is known to be Belgian by birth, to have had a privileged upbringing, to have made a perilous escape from World War II-torn Europe — his blind eye and dead leg are indelible reminders of that time. But Vander is also a master liar ("I lied to lie"), his true identity shrouded under countless layers of intricately connected falsehoods. Now a young woman he doesn't know, and whom he has dubbed "Miss Nemesis," has threatened to expose the most fundamental and damaging of these lies. Vander has agreed to travel from California to meet her in Italy — in Turin, city of the most mysterious shroud — believing that he will have no difficulty rendering her harmless.
But he is wrong. This woman — at once mad and brilliant, generous and demanding — will be the catalyst for Vander's reluctant journey through his past toward the truths he has hidden, and toward others even he will be shocked to discover.
In Shroud — as in all of his acclaimed previous novels — John Banville gives us an emotionally resonant tale, exceptionally rich in language and image, dazzling in its narrative invention. It is a work of uncommon power.
"Banville is one of the great fictional stylists of our time, a deliberate and deliberative man who picks over his words with the finest tweezers available from the lexicographical pharmacy." The Spectator (U.K.)
"Shroud will not easily be surpassed for combination of wit, moral complexity, and compassion. It is hard to see what more a novel could do." Irish Times
"In this mesmerizing novel, taut with intelligence, compassion and wit, Banville has once again worked his extravagant alchemy, transmuting the prose of the familiar world into the poetry of revelation and renewal." Independent on Sunday (London)
"John Banville's literary powers are so commanding that it feels almost wilful to withold full assent from Shroud, a book almost entirely composed of bursts of amazing prose." The Observer (London)
One part Nietzsche, one part Humbert Humbert, and a soupcon of Miltons Lucifer, Axel Vander, the dizzyingly unreliable narrator of John Banvilles 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 Banvilles most rapturous performance to date.
About the Author
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His first book, Long Lankin, was published in 1970. His other books are Nightspawn, Birchwood, Doctor Copernicus, Kepler, The Newton Letter, Mefisto, The Book of Evidence (which was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize), Ghosts, Athena, The Untouchable, and Eclipse. He lives in Dublin.
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