Meike's Reviews > Night Boat to Tangier

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

Nominated for the Booker Prize 2019
This book is like a twisted psychological thriller directed by Quentin Tarantin, starring two aging Irish gangsters. It's also a ghost story. A story about Ireland and the search for freedom, if not deliverance. A story about mental illness. A story about drug addiction and dysfunctional families. Ooooh, Kevin Barry, this is a very, very clever book that constantly jumps and shifts, held together by the distinct voices of two men on the edge of mental breakdown.

Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond have been longtime partners in the business of drug smuggling - they made a fortune, but also paid the price: Both struggled with addiction, and Maurice lost his family. Now over 50, they are trying to find Maurice's 23-year-old estranged daughter (mmmhhh....), Dilly. Sitting in the ferry terminal in the Spanish port of Algeciras, they are hoping to catch her on a passage to or from Tangier - or aren't they?

The story is full of edgy dialogue and starts out with a fun, neo-noirish, hard-boiled feel, but soon, mainly due to harrowing and moving flashbacks, develops into an intense psychological tale about two lives that have spiralled out of control. Much like The Man Who Saw Everything, another wonderful Booker contender, Barry contemplates the nature of memory ("The past is uncertain, mobile. It shifts and rearranges back there.") and what our experiences and decisions can turn us into ("He was more than possessed by his crimes and excesses - he was the gaunt accumulation of them.").

I just loved how Barry's story takes unexpected turns and keeps readers on their toes. He also pulls off the whole "ghost" theme (which I will not spoil): "There comes a time when you just have to live among your ghosts" - this novel illustrates this in various ways. A great addition to the Booker longlist, and I want this to be Tarantino's next movie.

And hey, Radiohead experts: If you have thoughts on the reference to Thom Yorke's paralysed eye, please tell me in the comment section!
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Reading Progress

July 24, 2019 – Shelved
July 24, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
July 24, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-booker
July 24, 2019 – Shelved as: ireland
July 31, 2019 – Started Reading
July 31, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-read
July 31, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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message 1: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Before or after his movie version of My Sister, the Serial Killer?

;););)


message 2: by Julia (new) - added it

Julia Haha, okay. This makes me look forward to it, thanks! Was one of the novels I was least excited about of the bunch.


Meike Sadie wrote: "Before or after his movie version of My Sister, the Serial Killer?
;););)"


Before - it's much more twisted and grittier, I think you'll enjoy it!! :-)


Meike Julia wrote: "Haha, okay. This makes me look forward to it, thanks! Was one of the novels I was least excited about of the bunch."

Well, I always look forward to the Irish entries, and this one didn't disappoint - review coming up!


message 5: by DrWarthrop (new)

DrWarthrop As always, awesome review! The book sound as it would have been perfect for the upcoming „Hollywood“ Special, but the choice has been made. *sobbing*
Aaaanyway, it sounds really interesting especially when it comes to the twisted psychological part, which sounds as if I would love it


message 6: by Meike (last edited Aug 02, 2019 01:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Meike DrWarthrop wrote: "As always, awesome review! The book sound as it would have been perfect for the upcoming „Hollywood“ Special, but the choice has been made. *sobbing*
Aaaanyway, it sounds really interesting especia..."


Thank you so much! Oh, it doesn't have any connections to Hollywood yet (hey Quentin, give Barry a call!), so we're good! :-) But yes, I believe that you would enjoy reading the outrageous dialogue of the two Irish gangsters, and also the twisted psychological part - btw, it's only a matter of time until we manage to convince you to join the Booker madness!! :-)


Peter Boyle Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Meike! I like your Tarantino suggestion - this could be an Irish Pulp Fiction :-) Or maybe Lenny Abrahamson could have a go if QT is not available. I think it would make a great film no matter who directs it, the dialogue is so good.


message 8: by Meike (last edited Aug 02, 2019 06:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Meike Peter wrote: "Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Meike! I like your Tarantino suggestion - this could be an Irish Pulp Fiction :-) Or maybe Lenny Abrahamson could have a go if QT is not available. I think it would mak..."

Thank you so much, Peter! Oh yes, maybe Tarantino should co-direct it with Abrahamson, that would make for a great mix of styles and ideas! Btw: As the number of Irish entries on the Booker longlist is quite underwhelming, I got my hands on the German audiobook of Conversations with Friends (brand new over here) in order to get a proper fix (ha!) of Irish Lit - I will start it as soon as I finish the 18 hour bore-a-thon that is An Orchestra of Minorities...


Peter Boyle Meike wrote: "Peter wrote: "Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Meike! I like your Tarantino suggestion - this could be an Irish Pulp Fiction :-) Or maybe Lenny Abrahamson could have a go if QT is not available. I thin..."

Thanks for the Orchestra of Minorities tip, sending it to the bottom of my Booker TBR! Interested to hear what you think of CWF from my neighbour Sally Rooney. I've only read Normal People but a lot of people think her debut is the better novel.


Meike Peter wrote: "Interested to hear what you think of CWF from my neighbour Sally Rooney..."

Haha, how cool is that?!

Peter wrote: "Thanks for the Orchestra of Minorities tip, sending it to the bottom of my Booker TBR!..."

I know that Ducks, Newburyport has quite a following, but now that I've read the first 10 % and the ending, I think I'll bail - I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book, but I don't want to evoke the impression that "Orchestra" is worse than "Ducks", at least from my humble point of view! :-)


Peter Boyle Meike wrote: "I know that Ducks, Newburyport has quite a following, but now that I've read the first 10 % and the ending, I think I'll bail"


I've heard so much praise for Ducks too but the size is really putting me off. No book needs to be that long! Looking forward to reading your remaining Booker reviews 👍


Meike Peter wrote: "I've heard so much praise for Ducks too but the size is really putting me off. No book needs to be that long! Looking forward to reading your remaining Booker reviews 👍"

Thank you so much, Peter!!!


message 13: by Tuti (new) - added it

Tuti great review - sounds like a good one :-)


Meike Tuti wrote: "great review - sounds like a good one :-)"

Thank you, Tuti! Yes, I enjoyed this book very much!


message 15: by DrWarthrop (new)

DrWarthrop Meike wrote: "Thank you so much! Oh, it doesn't have any connections to Hollywood yet (hey Quentin, give Barry a call!), so we're good! :-) But yes..."

It sounds like it could be very tarantino-esque^^ Aww, I love strong-language dialogue and spleeny characters and will mark it.
That's a nice idea and I would love to join the 'booker-club' but currently I'm gald to finish one book per week so it may take a bit toooo long to catch up^^ But nontheless I will try it!


Meike DrWarthrop wrote: "It sounds like it could be very tarantino-esque^^ Aww, I love strong-language dialogue and spleeny characters and will mark it...."

...I just got 2 Tarantino-related ARCs (Quentin Tarantino: The iconic filmmaker and his work and Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need to Know) and I saw that in today's Zeit, there will be a major article about "Once Upon A Time..." - yayy! :-)

And yes, join the Booker fun whenever you have time - and in 12 days, we'll also have the longlist for the German Book Prize!


message 17: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Great review, Meike. It's always helpful to read your review of a novel that we both enjoyed, because you help me to understand additional aspects of it.


Meike Dan wrote: "Great review, Meike. It's always helpful to read your review of a novel that we both enjoyed, because you help me to understand additional aspects of it."

Thank you so much, Dan, I also enjoyed reading your insightful review! I know this is your #1 in the ranking, and I also loved it a lot, so it's my #2 - IMHO, only the Levy was liiiiiittle better! :-)


message 19: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Meike wrote: "I know this is your #1 in the ranking, and I also loved it a lot, so it's my #2 - IMHO, only the Levy was liiiiiittle better! :-) "

Thank you too, Meike. Can you believe it? NetGalley refused, rejected, scorned my request for the Levy! (At least I scored on the Rushdie.)


Meike Dan wrote: "Can you believe it? NetGalley refused, rejected, scorned my request for the Levy! (At least I scored on the Rushdie.) "

Shame on them! I also had to pull all strings available to finally get my hands on the Levy, but I had no luck with the Rushdie - now I'll have to wait for the pub date! :-( But I'm looking forward to reading your review, I'm curious what you will make of it!


Susie Amiatu Tarantino has jumped into my mind too Meike. I also feel like there are shades of McCarthy at times. I’m half way and I’m absolutely loving it.


Meike Susie wrote: "Tarantino has jumped into my mind too Meike. I also feel like there are shades of McCarthy at times. I’m half way and I’m absolutely loving it."

I'm glad that you love it as well, Susie! I absolutely agree: There is a twisted Southern Gothic vibe in parts of this story - did Barry just invent Irish Gothic?


message 23: by DrWarthrop (new)

DrWarthrop Meike wrote: "...I just got 2 Tarantino-related ARCs (Quentin Tarantino: The iconic filmmaker and his work and Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need to Know) and I saw that in today's Zeit"

They both sound really interesting! I've seen that you just liked one of them, which seems to be highly readable. Why are there so many great books and such less time? Not fair...

Thanks for the Zeit article recommendation, as I'm a huge fan and loved the article. Can't wait to finally see the movie next weekend! Are you as hyped as I am? :-D


Meike DrWarthrop wrote: "Can't wait to finally see the movie next weekend! Are you as hyped as I am? :-D "

Let me see....ähem.... YES YES YES!!!! :-)


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