'I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.' Julian Barnes' new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard. Though he warns us that 'this is not my autobiography', the result is a tour of the mind of one of our most brilliant writers. When Angela Carter reviewed Barnes' first novel, "Metroland", she praised the mature way he wrote about death. Now, nearly thirty years later, he returns to the subject in a wise , funny and constantly surprising book, which defies category and classification - except as Barnesian.
"Death has a habit of bringing the best out in writers...Given its subject matter the whole book has an unexpectedly jaunty air. On virtually every page there is a good joke, even when - or perhaps especially when - Barnes is writing about the grimmest events. Julian Barnes is wonderful at keeping awe and flippancy in perfect balance...One of the joys of this book is that it contains so many playful asides, so many exhilaration diversions from its gloomy central theme."
--Craig Brown, "Mail on Sunday
""It is not, Barnes tells us, an autobiography. It is rather an essay in the best sense: speculative and precise, intimate and metaphysical, capacious and democratic in the variety of voices, alive and dead, that are invited to counsel the author as he edges his way towards the void"
--Brian Dillon, "Times Literary Supplement
""Julian Barnes is a delightful companion and much of the book (its informal tone included) is like an extended and very interesting conversation."
--Cressida Connolly, "Literary Review
""Compelling...witty and erudite...consistently interesting and entertaining."
--Val Hennessy, "Daily Mail
""This book is both fun and funny. It is sharp, too, in the sense of painful as well as witty...You are in the presence of a nimble mind in complete mastery of, and engagement with, his chosen subject."
--Lucy Beresford, "New Statesman
--Jane Shilling," The Times
""Entertaining, intriguing, absorbing and so expansive that I was startled, on finishing, to note its brevity...Irresistible reading."
--Penelope Lively, "Financial Times
""Superb...[Barnes's] funniest and frankest work yet."
--KateSummerscale, "Daily Telegraph"
"From the Hardcover edition."
Julian Barnes is the author of nine novels, including Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10 Chapters, England, England and Arthur and George, and two collections of short stories, Cross Channel and The Lemon Table.