Synopses & Reviews
Age has done everything except mellow the characters in Kingsley Amis’s The Old Devils
, which turns its humane and ironic gaze on a group of Welsh married couples who have been spending their golden years—when “all of a sudden the evening starts starting after breakfast”—nattering, complaining, reminiscing, and, above all, drinking. This more or less orderly social world is thrown off-kilter, however, when two old friends unexpectedly return from England: Alun Weaver, now a celebrated man of Welsh letters, and his entrancing wife, Rhiannon. Long-dormant rivalries and romances are rudely awakened, as life at the Bible and Crown, the local pub, is changed irrevocably.
Considered by Martin Amis to be Kingsley Amis’s greatest achievement—a book that “stands comparison with any English novel of the [twentieth] century”—The Old Devils confronts the attrition of ageing with rare candor, sympathy, and moral intelligence.
About the Author
Kingsley Amis (1922–1995) was a popular and prolific British novelist, poet, and critic, widely regarded as one of the greatest satirical writers of the twentieth century. He won an English scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he began a lifelong friendship with fellow student Philip Larkin. Following army service in World War II, he completed his degree and joined the faculty at the University College of Swansea in Wales. His first novel, Lucky Jim
(also available from NYRB Classics), appeared in 1954 to great acclaim and won a Somerset Maugham Award; from that point on he would publish roughly a book a year. Amis was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990.
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of many novels, including The Book of Evidence, The Untouchable, and Eclipse. Banville’s novel The Sea was awarded the 2005 Man Booker Prize. A Death in Summer, a novel written under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, was published in July 2011.