Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry is an Irish writer born in 1969. He is the author of three collections of short stories and three novels. City of Bohane was the winner of the 2013 International Dublin Literary Award. Beatlebone won the 2015 Goldsmiths Prize. This 2019 novel, Night Boat to Tangier, was longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize. Barry is also an editor of Winter Papers, an arts and culture annual.

In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two ageing Irishmen — Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous crime of drug smuggling — sit at night, with little patience. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter (or is she?), Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil is the occasion for an extraordinary journey back in time excavating their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals and serial exiles. It is rendered with the dark humour and a hardboiled Hibernian lyricism that has become characteristic of Kevin Barry as a fiction writer.

In this novel the elements are stark: the corruption that a large amount of money breeds, the consequences of adultery, the guilt and shame of men. Death looms the largest with a strong flavour of Samuel Beckett. It proceeds by a series of brutal, disorienting flashbacks. Maurice Hearne and his friend Charlie Redmond share an enduring love for Rumble Fish, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s novel of teenage disaffection, recklessness and insanity. Night Boat to Tangier is a sort of coming-of-age story, except the central characters are middle-aged already.

This is a sharply comic meditation on male friendship and the true cost of crime on the soul.

224 pages in Canongate

First published 2019

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1782116172

Kevin Barry
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