Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi” as Want to Read:
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

by
3.45  ·  Rating details ·  2,865 ratings  ·  456 reviews
A wildly original novel of erotic fulfillment and spiritual yearning.

Every two years the international art world descends on Venice for the opening of the Biennale. Among them is Jeff Atman–a jaded and dissolute journalist–whose dedication to the cause of Bellini-fuelled partygoing is only intermittently disturbed by the obligation to file a story. When he meets the spell
...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Pantheon (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,865 ratings  ·  456 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Fionnuala
'Dazzling', 'wonderfully entertaining', 'extraordinarily reflective' 'Dyer can write as beautifully as Lawrence and Proust', are just a small sample of the critics' comments from the inside cover of this book. So why have am I so unimpressed? Yesterday, when I finished it, my review might have read as follows: 'I have nothing to say about this book because I am unwilling to spend any more of my precious time trying to think of something to write that won't be too harsh and dismissive.' Instead, ...more
knig
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
When I imbibed David Deutch’s ‘theory of everything’ in ‘Fabric of Reality’, in which a multiversal universe accommodates a cotillion of copies of each of us living parallel lives, it was all very theoretical and frankly needed someone to come along, pull it off the shelf, and give it some real life applicability. Geoff Dyer duly obliges. He offers ‘Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi’. Which also proves that the Deutschian ‘theory of everything’ is tighly correlated with A Queneuesque take on rea ...more
Alana
May 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010_05_may, reviewed
To be perfectly honest, I'm still not sure what to make of Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, but I know that I liked it. It seems to be a novel that illuminates how opposites not only are able to coexist but absolutely must exist to define the other. This book feels like a journey, for more reasons than the exotic locations, and what's more, it's a journey where it's perfectly fine to lose one's way a bit, to not always completely follow where it goes, or to suddenly be perfectly in tune with t ...more
Drew
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
When I was younger, I'd often go to someone's cottage (everyone knew someone who had a cottage on the Finger Lakes) on July 3 for what was called the Ring of Fire: everyone with a cottage around the lake would make a big bonfire, big enough to see from across the lake. This was also an excuse to get rip-roaringly drunk and play lawn games and swim in the lake and zoom around in boats. Not that I was getting drunk; I was just a kid. My whole point here though is that these parties were inevitably ...more
Sunil
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Technically, this is my first Dyer and I liked it. That, in itself, would make it unlikable for an average reader.


The book is really two separate novellas: the first is the story of Jeff Atman, an aimless middle rung journalist in London who is assigned to cover the Venice Binneale to a ‘scoop’ interview around a story of prized nude photograph of a singer?


The action moves to very ‘otter’ than ever before Venice. Jeff, portrayed as somewhat of an outsider at the international art scene, trudges
...more
Trin
May 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: english-lit, fiction
This is one of those books that makes me feel stupid. It’s made up of two interrelated novellas, the first of which follows an English reporter named Jeff as he covers the Biennale in Venice; the second finds a nameless English reporter, possibly the same man, losing himself in Varanasi. Both halves have moments of beauty, of occasionally wonderfully incisive description and even humor, and both also have their share of extreme WTF. The Venice portion, in particular, is full of lengthy and highl ...more
Sazuru
Jun 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Oh, another guy book, but so freewheeling and acutely observed that there was no putting it down. Crucial in the Varanasi section was a paragraph admitting that the character lived in a special traveler/tourist/hippie space and had no real access to the intellectual and artistic life of the Indian city. So glad to see someone else citing Mary McCarthy's Venice Observed, and to read the conscious and loving echoes of Thomas Mann, Somerset Maugham, Vedas.
Ieva
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mana otrā izvēle šī mēneša grāmatu klubam, kas lasa jebkā apbalvotās grāmatas. Izvēli veicu pateicoties StarFM rīta raidījumam, kurā Sipeniece stāstīja, ka Anglijā esot Vudhauza prēmija, ko piešķir labākajiem komiskās literatūras darbiem, bet šogad to nav saņēmis neviens, jo neesot darba, kas būtu sasmīdinājis visus žūrijas locekļus. Nolēmu sameklēt, kas no to prēmiju saņēmušajiem darbiem ir tulkots latviski.
Šī priekšvēsture ir būtiska, jo mans galvenais vērtējums par Džefu ir tāds, ka, ja es bū
...more
Kent Winward
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two novellas juxtaposed on the theme of Eros and Thanatos. Dyer is delving into the world of Lawrence and Mann. (I'm going to have to go back and finish Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence). The surrender to the erotic and sensual climaxes in a feeling of death, while the descent into death and the human condition somehow ends up in the ecstatic. The conflicts and contradictions of the human condition are spectacular and like the burning corpse, Dyer managed to shove a stick into my ...more
Nathan Oates
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Three quarters of the way through this book I stopped to ask myself the question writers work hard to keep far from their readers' minds: why am I reading this book? Unlike most conventional novels, which aim merely to get the reader through to the end (a difficult task), Dyer's book provokes, even encourages this question. The "novel" is in fact two short novels that may, or may not, involve the same not-quite young freelance journalist, first during a trip to Venice, and second the Indian city ...more
Mara
Aug 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
And I was speculating what the dude version of Eat Pray Live would look like. Actually, he never made it to Indonesia, so maybe it was just Eat, Pray?
Jim Elkins
Mar 04, 2016 added it
Shelves: american
Popular Journalism and Travel Fiction

A breezy, superficial book, a combination of the English mortification and fretting in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and ordinary travel journalism.

What is the value, for fiction, of detailed, immediate, lightly fictionalized, fairly accurate reporting of unusual places? This book is divided in two: I have never been to Varanasi, so that half struck me as having been transferred as quickly as possible from experience to fiction, as if the details of the place would
...more
James Murphy
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read Dyer's nonfiction before and aware of what a terrific writer he is, I'd been eager to begin this novel. But it took me a few days to get into it. I was confused by the first part, Venice, unable to decide what he was trying to do. But almost immediately after beginning the 2d section, Varanasi, I began to form an understanding and saw that the novel soars. It seems to be about duality. And about transformation. Dyer has written the 2 parts as the 2 sides of a coin. Venice is about li ...more
Ken
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Two novellas that don't really go together comprise this oddly-named book by Geoff Dyer. In Jeff in Venice, we witness the rather depressing scene of journalists and art critics gathering in that wet Italian city for the Biennale where they drink themselves silly (as if they need the help) and search for sex (successfully, as Mr. Dyer apparently likes to write about it).

Things slow down (or are less racy, at least) as we head to India for some travel writing about dirt, poverty, disease, and Hin
...more
Milan
Veoma je lako prepričati radnju romana „Džef u Veneciji, smrt u Benaresu“. Sredovečni zapadnjak iz više srednje klase u napadu krize srednjih godina razočaran ispraznošću Zapadne civilizacije odlazi u Indiju da pronađe smisao života. Ne znam da li ću da pokvarim „užitak“ čitanja, ako otkrijem da je pronađeni smisao života reka. :) Eto, sasvim neočekivano i nadasve originalno.

Uprkos sjajnim rečenicama, zanimljivim opservacijama, duhovitim i ciničnim opaskama i odličnim opisima ova knjiga je jedno
...more
Mark
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Geoff Dyer is my new best friend (even though I don't even know him, I feel that I should). I was sad to see this book end. Ostensibly fiction, but half travel writing, Dyer's writing is smart, witty and clever. It made me laugh and made me ponder.

Jeff in Venice is a love story about a writer (Jeff, Geoff?) enjoying the Venice Biennial who has a love afair, the love of his life? Maybe. His description of Venice, the global art scene and the arty people who enjoy the finer things in life (in othe
...more
Tamara
Nov 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
After reading reviews of this novel, I understand that it is acclaimed as a high brow philosophical story. Unfortunately, it must have been too high brow for me because I did not enjoy this book at any level. It is actually 2 separate stories thinly linked by a couple of sentences that compares the similiarties between Venice and Varansai and an unsupported assumption that the unnamed narrator in the 2nd story is Jeff from the first story.

The first story is about journalists and artists attendi
...more
Rebecca
Jul 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I was disappointed by this book. All the reviews I've read have been glowing. I was immediately put off by the imprecision of the language. A small criticism: one of the main characters is an American woman, but she uses subtle Britishisms, like ending sentences with "isn't it?" and saying "straight away" instead of "right away." Maybe it's petty to complain about, but I feel like the author has an obligation to at least have an American friend read it and catch those things.

Anyway, this book c
...more
pinknantucket
May 27, 2010 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy it as much as Dyer's Lawrence book ('Out of Sheer Rage', which I snickered my way through) but still a good read. Dyer doesn't write 'plot' novels (based on the two I've read and also what he said in person himself when I went to see him talk recently so there). You kind of follow him along, seeing what he sees, thinking what he thinks. This books is in two parts - the first set in Venice, the second in Varanasi, India. Surprise! They are narrated by different characters, both are ...more
Featherbooks
Apr 18, 2009 rated it liked it
As a novel, I was not enthralled with this book, the story, the character development were disappointing. As a travelogue, I loved it. Hearing about Jeff's Venice Bienniale high life was entertaining, but the Varanasi portion was fascinating as he related the highs and horrors of his time in India. Despite the illnesses, haranguing, death, pollution and poverty, I want to go visit Varanasi and stay at the Ganges View. Dyer is a talented writer and has one of the funniest descriptions on record o ...more
David
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm still not sure which half of this book I like better. Both halves, though different, each have something interesting about them. The interplay between the two is the most interesting, but there are interesting things to appreciate about each separately. Dyer has a certain wit throughout which is always enjoyable as well. It is an odd book masquerading as a non-odd book.
Jim
I am beginning to mthink that, going ino the 21st century, Geoff Dyer may well be one of its literary giants. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is a strange novel, or is it two novels? The first half is about journalist Jeff at the Venice Biennale during a hot spell. There he meets an attractive woman named laura from Los Angeles, whereupon the two begin a short, torrid relationship. When Laura leaves for L.A., Jeff seems to wither away, without even exchanging addresses and phone numbers.

Halfwa
...more
Kelly
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book and it is thought-provoking in many parts, especially the Varanasi section. Really could have been cut down, a lot of the Varansai section was not needed.
Jay Daze
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lee
Jun 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars (vacilated for me between 4 and 3 stars but gets better as it moves along and ends well)? Feels absolutely real, or at least feels like his non-fiction. First section is in third person, second section is in first person, yet there's no real difference in how they feel -- or maybe it's about Jeff Atman dissolving into an I and then, after pooing a lot and soaking up the Ganges, transforming into goo-headed, guru-ish egolessness (dying hair in first section, unselfconsciously dressing ...more
Brenna
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Roberts
Jun 08, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynda
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, india
A strange and fascinating novel of sex and death set in two very different but curiously connected locations of Venice and Varanasi. The Venice section is written almost in the manner of Brett Easton Ellis involving as it does much name dropping brand logos drinking and drug taking interspersed with beautiful glimpses of the light and waterways of Venice. There is towards the end of the section an elaborate set piece in which Jeff views Tintoretto's great ceiling paintings through a mirror on wh ...more
Angie
Sep 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Angie by: Very Short List
Geoff Dyer has such an interesting way of seeing the world and expressing it in a clever way. It really is like 2 books. The only thing connecting the two is the main character, Jeff.
Some of my favorite lines include:
"Dying is an art like everything else. We do it exceptionally well. We do it so it looks real." and that is how the author covers his grey-like Sylvia Plath
Also after much waiting for so many things, "At what point would the longing for things to be over be over so that he could res
...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Jun 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: july-aug-2009

A play on Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice (1912), about a middle-aged male writer who seeks spiritual enlightenment in Venice but instead finds carnal doom in a young boy, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is many things at once: a detailed, entertaining, travelogue; a philosophical treatise on mortality, materialism, and spirituality; and an inquiry into the nature of self. Dyer's "deceptively straightforward tale" (Oregonian)óinfluenced by Nietzsche, Roland Barthes, John Berger, and othe

...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Sky Below
  • Cheever
  • The Confessions of Edward Day
  • The Anthologist (The Paul Chowder Chronicles #1)
  • My Paper Chase
  • The Mulberry Empire
  • In the Valley of the Kings
  • Venice Observed
  • Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
  • Lark & Termite
  • Italian Hours
  • Voyager: Travel Writings
  • The Art Student's War
  • One D.O.A., One on the Way
  • The Lost Child: A Mother's Story
  • Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country
  • Marquee Moon
  • The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
530 followers
Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1958. He was educated at the local Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; five genre-defying titles: But Beautiful (winner of a 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize ...more
“People say it's not what happens in your life that matters, it's what you think happened. But this qualification, obviously, did not go far enough. It was quite possible that the central event of your life could be something that didn't happen, or something you thought didn't happen. Otherwise there'd be no need for fiction, there'd only be memoirs and histories...” 11 likes
“The history of sex is the history of glimpses: first ankles, then cleavage, then knees. More recently, tattoos, navel rings, tongue studs, underwear…” (p. 92).” 9 likes
More quotes…