“A slyly constructed and stylistically buoyant novel . . . The ending [is] shattering and genuinely surprising.” --New York Times Book Review
“Banville perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence, the body of yearning for sexual experience, the mind blurring eroticism and emotion. . . . [He] is a Nabokovian artist, his prose so rich, poetic and packed with startling imagery that reading it is akin to gliding regally through a lake of praline: it’s a slow, stately process, delicious and to be savoured. . . . . This is a luminous, breathtaking work.” --The Independent (UK)
“Ancient Light is a brilliant meditation on desire and loss, which also skillfully reminds us, even warns us, that ‘Madam Memory is a great and subtle dissembler’ . . . [Contains] page upon page of luxurious, lyrical prose.” --Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Beautiful . . . Banville is the heir to Proust, via Nabokov.” --The Daily Beast
“Luminescent . . . Illuminating and often funny but ultimately devastating . . . Breathtaking beauty and profundity on love and loss and death, the final page of which brought tears. The Stockholm jury should pick up the phone now.” --The Financial Times
“Banville’s prose, as gorgeous and precise as in his 2005 Man Booker winner The Sea, evokes scenes so that they burn in the reader’s mind.” --Sunday Express (UK)
“A breathtaking new novel . . . Banville, a writer of exquisite precision and emotional depth, writes with droll inquisition and entrancing sensuality in this suspenseful drama of the obliviousnessness of lust and the weight of grief. Alex’s misremembered love story and complicated movie adventures are ravishing, poignant, and archly hilarious as the past and present converge and narrow down to a stunning revelation. Banville is supreme in this enrapturing novel of shadows and illumination.” --Booklist (starred)
“A world where the past is more vivid than that present, and the dead somehow more alive than the living. . . . startlingly brilliant.” --The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“The prose of the new book has a kind of luxuriant beauty, and, given the number of gorgeous arias written in difficult keys with many sharps and flats, the novel has the feel of a feverish atonal chamber opera . . . It’s as if the prose has shouldered the entire burden of undoing death and loss, an ambition rarely seen in contemporary letters. One reads Ancient Light in a state of slightly stunned admiration and disbelief that anyone still believes in literary art sufficiently to call upon its resources for these particular ends.” --New York Review of Books
“Banville, with his forensic sensory memory, his great gift for textural (and textual) precision, his ability to inhabit not just a room, as a writer, but also the full weight of a breathing body, is exactly in his element here. . . . Cleverness is on display, and nothing might be quite what it seems, but Banville’s duty of care, to the emotional lives of his characters, to the worlds in which they live, is not neglected for a moment.” --The Observer (UK)
“Ancient Light dazzles . . . It is a work of commanding artistry, each scene exquisitely realized in burnished prose. . . . Banville’s unmatched descriptive artistry [fixes] every fleeting moment and sensation mind with painterly precision . . . haunting beauty.” --The Scotsman
John Banville's Ancient Light is a story of obsessive young love and the power of grief
'Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.'
In a small town in 1950s Ireland a fifteen-year-old boy has illicit meetings with a thirty-five-year-old woman - in the back of her car on sunny mornings, and in a rundown cottage in the country on rain-soaked afternoons. Unsure why she has chosen him, he becomes obsessed and tormented by this first love. Half a century later, actor Alexander Cleave - grieving for the recent loss of his daughter - recalls these trysts, trying to make sense of the boy he was and of the needs and frailties of the human heart.
Praise for Ancient Light:
'Brilliant. Banville excels in his brightly lit descriptions of self-absorbed teenage lust', Guardian
'Dazzling . . . captures a long-lost adolescent world of passion and desire', Independent
'Banville perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence ... This is a luminous breathtaking work', Independent on Sunday
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fourteen previous novels including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. He was recently awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. He lives in Dublin.