Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Knopf publishes Nothing To Be Frightened Of

‘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 like a tour of the mind of one of our most brilliant writers.

When Angela Carter reviewed Barnes’s 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.

The American Edition is Now Available from Knopf.

Order a copy online via, Knopf,, Random House, Random House Canada,, or one of a number of local independent booksellers.

"60/40" -- New Short Story

Read Julian Barnes's new short story in The Guardian -- "60/40," 2 August 2008: 22.

Beginning of the Story:

"It was the week Hillary Clinton finally conceded. The table was a clutter of bottles and glasses; and though hunger had been satisfied, some mild social addiction kept making hands reach out to snaffle another grape, crumble a landslip from the cliff face of cheese or pick a chocolate from the box. We had talked about Obama's chances against McCain, and whether in the last weeks Hillary had demonstrated guts or mere self-deception. We also considered whether the Labour Party was any longer distinguishable from the Conservatives, the suitability of London's streets for bendy buses, the likelihood of an al-Qaida attack on the 2012 Olympics and the effect of global warming on English viticulture. Joanna, who had been quiet during these last two topics, now said with a sigh, "You know, I could really do with a cigarette."

Tribute to Penelope Fitzgerald

Julian Barnes writes about Penelope Fitzgerald for The Guardian -- "How did she do it?" 26 July 2008: 2.

From the Article:

"About 10 years ago I appeared on a panel at York University with Penelope Fitzgerald. I knew her slightly, and admired her greatly. Her manner was shy and rather distrait, as if the last thing she wanted was to be taken for what she then was: the best living English novelist. So she comported herself as if she were a jam-making grandmother who scarcely knew her way in the world. This wasn't too difficult, given that she was indeed a grandmother, and also - one of the minor revelations in her forthcoming Letters - a jam (and chutney) maker. But the disguise wasn't convincing, since every so often, as if despite herself, her rare intelligence and instinctive wit would break through."

New Julian Barnes Interview

Scarlett Baron (DPhil student in English literature at Christ Church, Oxford) recently interviewed Julian Barnes for The Oxonian Review of Books.

Published under the title 'Nothing to be Frightened of: An Interview with Julian Barnes', you may read the review on The Oxonian Review of Books website [vol. 7, issue 3, Summer 2008].