Nancy Oakes's Reviews > Night Boat to Tangier

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction-from-ireland, 2019

(read in August -- catching up here)

https://www.readingavidly.com/2019/09...

I couldn't wait for the US publication of this novel, which happens September 17th, so off to the UK it was for me via an online purchase. Money well spent, as it turns out; when I finished it, I noticed my spouse staring at me like "what?" because I was a wee bit choked up on turning the last page. It is such a fine book, really -- sad and moving with more than a touch of black humor, and for me, excellent. Then again, it's the work of Kevin Barry we're talking about so no surprise there.

Night Boat to Tangier is many things: the history of a friendship, a story of love and loss, but most especially it is a tale of the past that continues to haunt the present, in more ways than one. It is

"a tremendously Hibernian dilemma -- a broken family, all the melancholy rest of it..."

and while it can verge into the morose and become brutal in places, there's also a sort of humorous, witty edge that offsets things so that you don't find yourself stuck deep in "all the melancholy rest of it" the entire time. The back-and-forth bickering/repartee between Charlie and Maurice ranges between funny and heartbreaking at times, then there's the story of Maurice's proposed and doomed building site which just may be a fairy fort, two men mouthing the words to Rumblefish while in a mental hospital ... sometimes you can't help but laugh.

As with the two men waiting in the terminal whose stories entrance some of their listeners , Kevin Barry has "woven a ring" that "shimmers" here, one that is "made of these odd, circling words." The man is truly a gifted storyteller.

I loved this beautiful, haunting book.
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Reading Progress

August 1, 2019 – Started Reading
August 1, 2019 – Shelved
August 2, 2019 –
page 43
19.2% "still very early days, but it's already good. I love Kevin Barry's work."
August 3, 2019 –
page 72
32.14% "👍👍👍👍👍"
August 3, 2019 –
page 120
53.57% "Oh! I can't begin to express how good this book is!!! It's sad but you can't read a Kevin Barry novel without laughing at least a little bit."
August 4, 2019 –
page 153
68.3% "I'll finish this today and then I'll be sad it's over. So good!"
August 4, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction-from-ireland
August 4, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
August 4, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Of all the Booker nominated books this year this one caught my attention the most. Looking forward to reading this one.

Can't wait to read the whole review :)


Nancy Oakes Karen wrote: "Of all the Booker nominated books this year this one caught my attention the most. Looking forward to reading this one.

Can't wait to read the whole review :)"


It's very different, which, along with the fact that Kevin Barry wrote it, was the attraction. I loved it.


Marie-Therese I am so sad this did not make the short list. I thought this was brilliant and hilarious and deeply moving. Everything I want in a book.


Nancy Oakes Marie-Therese wrote: "I am so sad this did not make the short list. I thought this was brilliant and hilarious and deeply moving. Everything I want in a book."

Agreed. Completely.


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