Hugh's Reviews > Night Boat to Tangier

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
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really liked it
bookshelves: booker-longlist, read-2019, modern-lit

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

There is an alchemy about this book, which makes such poetry out of the lives of a pair of brutal unscrupulous drug dealing gangsters and eventually left me feeling sympathy for them.

In the first chapter we meet Maurice and Charlie, two Irishmen in their early fifties, who are waiting in the port at Algeciras where they have been told that Maurice's daughter Dill will be catching a ferry to Tangier. They have not heard from her for several years, and the way they accost strangers who they believe have information establishes their characters and starts the process of revealing the back story. It took me a while to find any interest beyond the undoubted power of the language, but the way Barry gradually introduces the context is very effective and towards the end the book is quite gripping. The chapters set on this one night in Algeciras are alternated with chapters covering the events of the previous 25 years, and how the turbulent relationships developed.

We learn that Maurice's late wife Cynthia also had a long affair with Charlie (view spoiler).

I can see this one making the Booker shortlist, which could be a very strong one - only one of the seven books I have read so far has disappointed me.
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Reading Progress

April 18, 2019 – Shelved
July 31, 2019 – Started Reading
July 31, 2019 –
page 174
August 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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Paul Fulcher What a wonderful opening line to your review

Hugh Thanks Paul. Perhaps I should have made that the whole review!

Gumble's Yard It captures the book well for me as well - including in my concluding slight dissatisfaction with the end result. Ultimately alchemy failed.

Vivian Stevenson I started reading this the other day, and I was so unsure about it. I wasn't a fan of the way it was written. I really want to finish it to see why it was on the Booker longlist.

Barbara Thanks Hugh. I am halfway through this and find these hoodlums to be charming. I saw Kevin Barry at the John Hewitt Summer School in Armagh, NI the week of the Booker announcement. I do feel it belongs on the list.

Barbara Hugh- I just finished my review of this and agree that it should make the short list as well as deserving a place on the long list. When I asked Sebastian Barry about making the 2017 longlist, he said it is like having the circus come to town - a lot of fun while it lasts.

Hugh Thanks for all of the comments!

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