Beginning with an unlikely stowaway's account of life on board Noah's Ark, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters presents a surprising, subversive, fictional history of earth told from several kaleidoscopic perspectives. Noah disembarks from his ark but he and his Voyage are not forgotten: they are revisited in on other centuries and other climes - by a Victorian spinster mourning her father, by an American astronaut on an obsessive personal mission. We journey to the Titanic, to the Amazon, to the raft of the Medusa, and to an ecclesiastical court in medieval France where a bizarre case is about to begin...
This is no ordinary history, but something stranger, a challenge and a delight for the reader's imagination. Ambitious yet accessible, witty and playfully serious, this is the work of a brilliant novelist.
"Frequently brilliant, funny, thoughtful, iconoclastic, and a delight to read. Barnes is like a worldly, secular reincarnation of a medieval gloss-writer on sacred texts, and what he offers us is the novel as footnote to history, as subversion of the given, as brilliant, elaborate doodle around the margins of what we think about what we think we know"
"There is more moral and intellectual fodder, and more jokes, here than you will read in a month of Sundays...storytelling and teaching which captivate, liberate, and above all, enchant"
"You will want to read it again and again, and why not? - there's nothing around to touch it"
"This is a novel like no other - provocative, superbly funny, a wonderful and most original work...gives the reader a sense of ebullient, whooping joy"
"Barnes has created something unique in his work: a particular way of looking at life, at words, at relationships"
No year is complete without a bit of reading reflection, and as we gaze at 2019's shelves, we're more than a bit pleased with the boldness and breadth of the last 12 months of VINTAGE books. From an insider's look at the realities of modern-day poverty to an acclaimed expose of the data bias towards men, and a long-awaited, Booker-winning dystopian smash hit, here are 10 of the biggest highlights.
An extract from the archive edition of Metroland
Man Booker Prize-winner Julian Barnes discusses the cover design of his new novel, The Noise of Time, with Suzanne Dean. Joined by Alex Clark, they recall key moments in their twenty-year working relationship, as well as the iconic covers that have been created.