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The Noise of Time By Julian Barnes

ALL HE KNEW was that this was the worst time

He had been standing by the lift for three hours. He was on his fifth cigarette, and his mind was skittering.

Faces, names, memories.

Cut peat weighing down his hand. Fields of sunflowers.

The smell of carnation oil…

The faces and names of the dead, too.

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block.

He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now.

And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

So begins Julian Barnes' first novel since his Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending. A story about the collision of art and power, about human compromise, human cowardice and human courage,

Justifiably described as Barnes’ masterpiece, The Noise of Time is part fictionalised biography and displays again Barnes’s seemingly effortless ability to make the personal universal and to do so with brevity, precision and conscience.

Encountering the same man at three stages in his life, the power and impact of the individual takes on a larger significance, widened into a contemplation of personal responsibility and the limits of human endurance under the influence of power.

It is a book in dialogue; with the past, with the legacy of totalitarianism and more directly with Frank Kermode’s 1967 work of the same name and with the book both works originate from, the original Noise of Time, memoirs that contain an account of a life of tragic genius, that of Dmitri Shostakovich.

The Noise of Time is the work of a true master and a book that has lasting resonance for the age we find ourselves in and how we consider our own role within it.

‘Comes close to being not just a novel about music, but something more like a musical novel.’ - The Times

‘Barnes offers a surety of touch that few writers can match’ – Independent

An award-winning author, critic, journalist and translator, Julian Barnes is renowned for tackling the most significant themes of life and history in his novels and is rightly considered one of Britain’s greatest living writers. His fiction ranges from the linear narrative of his first novel Metroland to more experimental novels including his breakthrough Flaubert’s Parrot, A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters and his three-person love triangle novels Talking it Over and Love Etc. as well as The Sense of an Ending which won the 2011 Booker Prize.

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