One part Nietzsche, one part Humbert Humbert, and a soupcon of Milton’s Lucifer, Axel Vander, the dizzyingly unreliable narrator of John Banville’s masterful new novel, is very old, recently widowed, and the bearer of a fearsome reputation as a literary dandy and bully. A product of the Old World, he is also an escapee from its conflagrations, with the wounds to prove it. And everything about him is a lie.
Now those lies have been unraveled by a mysterious young woman whom Vander calls “Miss Nemesis.” They are to meet in Turin, a city best known for its enigmatic shroud. Is her purpose to destroy Vander or to save him—or simply to show him what lies beneath the shroud in which he has wrapped his life? A splendidly moving exploration of identity, duplicity, and desire, Shroud is Banville’s most rapturous performance to date.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His first book, Long Lankin, was published in 1970. His other books are Nightspawn, Birchwood, Doctor Copernicus, Kepler, The Newton Letter, Mefisto, The Book of Evidence (which was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize), Ghosts, Athena, The Untouchable, and Eclipse. He lives in Dublin.
Praise for Shroud…
“Hypnotic. . . . As much as any author today, [Banville] demonstrates the continuing relevance of words like ‘artistry’ and ‘masterpiece.’”
– The New York Times Book Review
“The style—the voice—is a phenomenon, a wonder in itself. . . . Shroud is full of . . . secrets that change everything once you notice them. . . . Dazzling.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Glittering, far-reaching intelligence. . . . Sentences, paragraphs, pages that by their exact and passionate beauty transport the reader and make the world new.” –The Boston Globe
“A seductive narrator. . .a writer of fastidious skill who captures the most delicate registers of feeling and mood with an often sublime precision.” – Newsday
“A virtuoso tale of grief, loss and salvation. His dazzling lyricism and extraordinary language resonate long after the story ends. . . . This dreamlike novel . . . glows with the subdued brilliance of its author’s searching intellect. The long stretches of breathtaking prose, addictive and illuminating, are what make this Shroud just shy of miraculous.” —The Oregonian
“A ravishingly beautiful writer. His prose is clean and unfussy. . .and his images and metaphors have a visionary keenness that’s almost violent; they strike the readers like blows.”–Salon
“Shroud shocks its reader. . . . It throbs along powerfully . . . until out of nowhere a beautiful sentence stops things cold. Banville’s prose is thick and sumptuous.”–Entertainment Weekly
“Can only be called a page-turner. . .what propels the reader’s fascination and admiration is the brilliance of its art.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Banville. . . [has] an allusive, alliterative prose style; a sly sense of humor; a meditative intelligence drawn to art and artifice; an appraiser’s eye that seeks out the odd corners of beauty in this world but reserves a disdainful glance for its conventions. . . . An unlikely and affecting story of redemption.”–Houston Chronicle
“A work of fiction with . . imaginative ambition and integrity.”–The Washington Post Book World
“John Banville is a master of narrative, language and imagery. His fictional characters . . . have daunting intellectual and individual breadth. . . . The author’s gift is the taut examination of characters as they hold their own disquieted review of themselves. His prose is eloquent and his language reverberates with clarity.” —Rocky Mountain News
“As much potboiler mystery as it is intellectual tour de force. . . . As a meditation on the nature of personal identity, indeed on the meaning of truth, Shroud is a masterpiece.”–Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram
“Every sentence of Shroud is thrilling with Nabokovian wit, sorrow and beauty.”–The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
“Difficult to resist. . .Banville has always been a sumptuous writer, but his love for the Jamesian sentence seems especially well-suited here.”–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Almost every one of his gorgeous sentences has the brooding, propulsive power of the heavens above his narrator’s lost Belgian home. . . . Banville weaves a haunting, lingering tale of a soul forever severed from its own identity.”–Seattle Weekly
“Hallucinatory. . .His skill at not losing us along the way is simply extraordinary. So is his prose, which, like Shroud, is hypnotic.”–Delaware News-Journal
“Narratively performs the very theory it allegorizes. The story engages quite suspensefully. His diction and command of language . . . are nothing short of genius.”–The Mobile Register
“Part mystery, part epistemological jigsaw puzzle, part black-comedy. . . We’re treated, on nearly every page, to the pleasure of a formidable writer’s fresh take on age-old themes: the nature of self and the limits of love.”–LA Weekly
“I am grateful for what I discovered [in Shroud], grateful for watching a deeply moral writer at the top of his game, grateful for having known a literary character far more intimately that most ‘real people’ I have met. It will. . .amaze you.”–David Prather, Huntsville Times
“In this mesmerising novel, taut with intelligence, compassion and wit, Banville has once again worked his extravagant alchemy, transmuting this prose of the familiar world into the poetry of revelation and renewal.” —Independent on Sunday
“In beautiful, lucid prose, John Banville describes a tragedy so strongly rooted in history and character that, like all real tragedies, it could not happen otherwise.” —The Times (London)
“Morally gripping as it is, Shroud is still a Banville performance, playing brilliantly with language in the gap between actuality and perception . . . Shroud will not easily be surpassed for combination of wit, moral complexity and compassion. It is hard to see what more a novel could do.” —The Irish Times