Today, it’s a very exciting book review as it’s one of the books that are long listed for this year’s Booker Prize… today, it’s all about Kevin Barry’s Night Boat To Tangier…
First, let’s talk about the Booker Prize and the long list. Last year, I read some books on the long list and read the winner, Anna Burns with Milkman. I wasn’t that invested but I just started my blog that year and I feel that this year I am more invested and involved in the book community and reading more, too, so the books that could be on the long list were more in my mind than before. This year, I’ve been so excited for the long list, I was counting down the days and everything. I made a large list of books that I think would be on the list and I had pretty much most of them right! The long-list include:
Margaret Atwood – The Testaments
Kevin Barry – Night Boat To Tangier
Oyinkan Braithwaite – My Sister, The Serial Killer
Lucy Ellman – Ducks, Newbury Port
Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other
John Lanchester – The Wall
Deborah Levy – The Man Who Saw Everything
Valeria Luiselli – Lost Children Archive
Chigozie Obioma – An Orchestra of Minorities
Max Porter – Lanny
Salman Rushdie – Quichotte
Elif Shafak – 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World
Jeanette Winterson – Frankissstein
In terms of the long list, I think it’s a good and solid line-up. It’s a change from last year – last year there were more debuts, a graphic novel, a crime novel, and more. This year, it’s more literary with big names and previous winners/listed authors of the prize previously. I made it my mission to read as much as the long-list as I could and I had already read three of them already: My Sister, The Serial Killer, Lanny and Frankissstein. I ordered a couple of books that caught my interest and so far, I’ve read Night Boat to Tangier, Lost Children Archive and 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World. But more on them shortly…. there are a few books that aren’t published yet – especially Atwood’s highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, which publishes on 10th September – after the shortlist is announced, too… but so far, I’ve really enjoyed getting into the list and reading books and authors I haven’t been introduced to before. So, today, it’s all about Kevin Barry’s brilliant Night Boat to Tangier…
I haven’t read or heard of Kevin Barry before the long list but Night Boat to Tangier was a book that caught my attention straight away. So, what’s it about? Here’s the blurb:
It’s late one night at the Spanish Port of Algeciras and two fading Irish gangsters are waiting on the boat from Tangier.
A lover has been lost,
A daughter has gone missing,
Their world has come asunder.
Can it be put together again?
Night Boat to Tangier is a novel drenched in sex and death and narcotics, in sudden violence and old magic. But above all, it is a book obsessed with the mysteries of love.
Sounds good, right? It doesn’t give much away and… I’m not sure how to sum the plot of the book to be honest. I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would, if I’m honest. Prior to reading the book, I had no idea what to expect other than two Irish gangsters… and I think it’s best to go in blind and go along for the ride. There are parts that are hilarious, there are parts that will make your skin crawl, parts that will make you sit up straight, parts that will make you gasp out loud… I did that a lot when reading this book!
I can see why the judges loved this book. Kevin Barry is a wonderful writer. The language and prose is just beautiful. He captures something really special in such a short space of time. No word is wasted and I just relished it all. It reads like a Harold Pinter/Beckett play in terms of the relationship between the two friends. It is really incredible and you will fall in love with Charlie and Maurice. The structure of the novel is something that Barry plays with, too. It’s short paragraphs and mostly dialogue between the two men. You read it quickly but the story and characters stay with you long after finishing it.
“The seasons were relentless; the years turned over. It was a fucking joke life. It was fucking beautiful. They never caught us – that was the important thing.”
The novel has a lot of themes to explore: family, love, relationships, mental health, violence, masculinity, crime, and so much more and Barry captures this with humour, wit and a lot of heart. I loved the flashbacks that created a more understanding of the characters and the story, too. I really enjoyed Barry’s writing and can’t wait to explore his writing after finishing this.
Overall, this was a novel that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I fell in love with Barry’s writing and the friendship between Charlie and Maurice. Barry’s writing is energetic, lyrical, poetic, hilarious, witty and so much more. Looking for a quick read on the long list? Look no further. You will laugh, cry, laugh some more and cry some more too. I really enjoyed it and I’m so glad to found something I wouldn’t usually have read myself. I look forward to seeing if this is on the shortlist and Barry’s writing in the future.
The shortlist for the Booker Prize will be announced on 3rd September 2019 with the winner revealed on 14th October 2019.
Have you read Night Boat to Tangier? What did you think? Do you think this will be on the shortlist? Potentially a winner? Let me know in the comments!
Also, reading the long-list? You can use this to tick off the books you have read to keep count!