John Banville

© Douglas Banville

(08/12/1945)

John Banville was born and educated in Wexford and worked as literary editor of The Irish Times between 1988 and 1999. Regarded as the stylistically most elaborate Irish writer of his generation, Banville has received many prizes for his works. In 1973, he was awarded the Allied Irish Banks' Prize for Birchwood, in 1976 the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Dr Copernicus, in 1981 the Guardian Fiction Prize for Kepler, in 1989 the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award for The Book of Evidence and, in 2005, Banville won the Man Booker Prize for The Sea. Banville has also adapted several plays by German writer Heinrich von Kleist and has written the screenplays for film adaptations of The Last September and Albert Nobbs.

Books
© Yedioth Books, 2014

Ancient Light

Viking, 2012

In a small town near the Irish coast in the 1950s, a fifteen-year-old boy has illicit meetings with a thirty-five-year-old woman, mother of his best friend - in the back of her car on sunny mornings, and in a rundown cottage in the country on rain-soaked afternoons. Unsure why she has chosen him, he becomes obsessed and tormented by this first love.

Half a century later, actor Alexander Cleave - grieving for the recent loss of his daughter Cass - recalls these trysts with Mrs Gray, trying to make sense of the boy he was and of the needs and frailties of the human heart. As he prepares for a new film role, he discovers that his character, the famous literary critic Axel Vander with an unsavoury past, had been present in Portovenere when Cass committed suicide. Determined to find out what really happened, Alexander hires the researcher Billie Stryker.

Translated into

Catalan, Greek, French, Serbian, Hebrew, Bulgarian

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© Bertelsmann Asia Publishing

Athena

Secker & Warburg, 1995

Athena is a mesmerizing novel that is both a literary thriller and a love story as sumptuously perverse as Lolita. It forms the third part of the loose trilogy that comprises The Book of Evidence and Ghosts and, like the two other novels, it is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a convicted murderer.

Translated into

Chinese, German, French

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© Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, 2017

Birchwood

Picador, 1973

Once the big house on an Irish estate, Birchwood has turned into a baroque madhouse for its ruined inhabitants. One disaster succeeds another, until young Gabriel Godkin runs away to join a travelling circus and look for his long-lost twin sister. Soon he discovers that famine and unrest stalk the countryside, and Ireland is ruined too.

Translated into

Spanish

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© Varrak, 2014

Eclipse

Picador, 2000

Alexander Cleave, actor, has left his career and his family behind and banished himself to his childhood home. He wants to retire from life, but finds this impossible in a house brimming with presences, some ghostly, some undeniably human. Memories, anxiety for the future and more particularly for his beloved but troubled daughter, conspire to distract him from his dreaming retirement. This humane and beautifully written story tells the tragic tale of a man, intelligent, preposterous and vulnerable, who in attempting to bring the performance to a close finds himself travelling inevitably towards a devastating denouement.

Translated into

German, Polish, Greek, Estonian

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© Bertelsmann Asia Publishing

Ghosts

Secker & Warburg, 1993

Freddie Montgomery, the protagonist from Banville's previous novel, The Book of Evidence, returns as the narrator in Ghosts. Released from prison, he retires to an unnamed, sparsely popluated island where he assists the enigmatic Professor Kreutznaer and his laconic assistant, Licht, in studying the work of a famous painter named Vaublin. Their isolation is disturbed when a party of three castaways is washed ashore...

Translated into

Chinese

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© Naklada Ljevak, 2015

Kepler

Secker & Warburg, 1981

Johannes Kepler, born in 1571 in south Germany, was one of the world's greatest mathematicians and astronomers. This novel brilliantly recreates his life and his incredible drive to chart the orbits of the planets and the geometry of the universe while being driven from exile to exile by religious and domestic strife. At the same time it illuminates the harsh realities of the Renaissance world: rich in imaginative daring but rooted in poverty, squalor and the tyrannical power of emperors.

Translated into

Russian, Croatian

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© Zlatorog

Mefisto

Secker & Warburg, 1986

A brilliant reworking of the classic Dr Faustus theme, Mefisto focuses on the mathematically gifted Gabriel Swan, who seeks a numerical solution to his quest for order and meaning in life.

Translated into

Bulgarian

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© Alfaguara (Penguin Random House Groupo), 2018

Ms Osmond

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2017

Isabel Archer is a young American woman, swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but naïve girl’s experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and—as Isabel finds out too late—cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage, but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy. Banville follows James’s story line to this point, but Mrs. Osmond is thoroughly Banville’s own: the narrative inventiveness; the lyrical precision and surprise of his language; the layers of emotional and psychological intensity; the subtle, dark humor. And when Isabel arrives in Italy—along with someone else!—the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow.

Translated into

Spanish

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© Zheijang Literature & Art Publishing, 2013

Shroud

Picador, 2002

Axel Vander, distinguished intellectual and elderly academic, is not the man he seems. When a letter arrives out of the blue, threatening to unveil his secrets and carefully concealed identity, Vander travels to Turin to meet its author. There, muddled by age and alcohol, unable always to distinguish fact from fiction, Vander comes face to face with the woman who has the knowledge to unmask him, Cass Cleave. However, her sense of reality is as unreliable as his, and the two are quickly drawn together, their relationship dark, disturbed and doomed from its very start.

Translated into

German, Dutch, Chinese

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© Edicions Bromera, 2016

The Blue Guitar

Viking, 2015

Oliver Otway Orme—a man equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating—is a painter of some renown, and a petty thief who has never been caught . . . until now. Unfortunately, the purloined possession in question is the wife of the man who was, perhaps, his best friend. Fearing the consequences, Olly has fled—not only from his mistress, his home, and his wife, but from the very impulse to paint, and from his own demons. He sequesters himself in the house where he was born, and thus, he sets about trying to uncover the answer to how and why things have turned out as they did. A witty and trenchant novel about artistic creation and the ways in which we learn to possess one another—and hold on to ourselves—The Blue Guitar shows Man Booker Prize-winning author John Banville at the peak of his powers.

Translated into

Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Chinese (simplified)

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© Mladá Fronta

The Book of Evidence

Secker & Warburg, 1989

Freddie Montgomery has committed two crimes. He stole a small Dutch master from a wealthy family friend, and he murdered a chambermaid who caught him in the act. He has little to say about the dead girl. He killed her, he says, because he was physically capable of doing so. It made perfect sense to smash her head in with a hammer. What he cannot understand, and would desperately like to know, is why he was so moved by an unattributed portrait of a middle-aged woman that he felt compelled to steal it.

Translated into

Chinese, Lithuanian, Czech, Polish

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© Kırmızı Kedi Yayınevi, 2014

The Infinities

Picador, 2009

Old Adam Godley’s time on earth is drawing to an end, and as his wife and children gather at the family home, little do they realize that they are not the only ones who have come to observe the spectacle: the mischievous Greek gods, too, have come. As tensions fray and desire bubbles over, their spying on the unfolding family drama soon becomes intervention, until the mortals’ lives – right before their eyes – seem to be changing faster than they can cope with. The Infinities is both a salacious delight and a penetrating exploration of the terrifying, wonderful, immutable plight of being human.

Translated into

Catalan, Dutch, Japanese, Spanish, Turkish

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Ed Victor,
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© Diogene, 2013

The Sea

Picador, 2005

Art historian Max Morden has reached a crossroads in his life: the recent loss of his wife is taking its toll on him, and a trauma in his past is similarly proving hard to deal with. He decides to return to Ballyless, a town on the coast, where he spent a memorable holiday as a boy. His memory of that time revolves on the charismatic Grace family, particularly the seductive twins Myles and Chloe. He grew to know them intimately, and what ensued that distant summer would haunt him for the rest of his life and shape everything that was to follow.

Translated into

Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swedish, Catalan, Croatian, Serbian, Chinese, Bulgarian, Latvian, Dutch, Tamil, Danish, Georgian

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Ed Victor,
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© Colibri, 2015

The Untouchable

Picador, 1997

Victor Maskell has been betrayed. After the announcement in the House of Commons and the hasty revelation of his double life of wartime espionage, his disgrace is public, his knighthood revoked, his position as curator of the Queen's pictures terminated. There are questions to be answered. For whom has he been sacrificed? To what has he sacrificed his life?

Translated into

Latvian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, German, Russian, Bulgarian

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© Relógio D'Água Editores, Lda., 2017

Time Pieces: a Dublin Memoir

Hachette Ireland, 2016

As much about the life of the city as it is about a life lived, sometimes, in the city, John Banville’s “quasi-memoir” is as layered, emotionally rich, witty, and unexpected as any of his novels. Born and bred in a small town a train ride away from Dublin, Banville saw the city as a place of enchantment when he was a child, a birthday treat, the place where his beloved, eccentric aunt lived. And though, when he came of age and took up residence there, and the city became a frequent backdrop for his dissatisfactions (not playing an identifiable role in his work until the Quirke mystery series, penned as Benjamin Black), it remained in some part of his memory as fascinating as it had been to his seven-year-old self. And as he guides us around the city, delighting in its cultural, architectural, political, and social history, he interweaves the memories that are attached to particular places and moments. The result is both a wonderfully idiosyncratic tour of Dublin, and a tender yet powerful ode to a formative time and place for the artist as a young man.

Translated into

Portuguese

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Ed Victor,
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