ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: THE NEW YORK TIMES • NPR • THE ATLANTIC MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE • THE MILLIONS • • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH LIBRARY JOURNAL • LIT HUB • • THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY “A darkly incantatory tragicomedy of love and betrayal. . . . Beautifully paced, emotionally wise.” —The Boston Globe “A dark, haunting novel. . . . Features gorgeous writing on every page.” —NPR “Poetic. . . . Deft and generous.” — The New York Times “A meticulous, devastatingly vivid portrayal of serious crime and its real consequences.” — "I had to quit reading this book the first day I had it in my hands, just so I could have it to read the next day. It's that good." The Guardian —Richard Ford “Barry has a great gift for getting the atmospheres of sketchy social hubs in a few phosphorescent lines. . . . The sheer lyric intensity . . . brings its variously warped and ruined souls into being.” — The New York Times Book Review “Kevin Barry channels the music in every voice . . . and the comic genius in everyone.” — The Washington Post “[Barry] is a writer of inspired prose, a funny and perceptive artist who can imbue a small story with tremendous depth. . . . A sad, lyrical beauty of a novel.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune “Brutal and funny. . . . The prose is a glory.” — The Paris Review “Tautly written. . . . Dreamlike.” — The New Yorker “Barry is blowing up language left, right, and center in his books. . . . This is a guy who can nail details like he’s throwing knives. . . . Essential reading. . . . A profoundly good book.” — The Brooklyn Rail “A fascinating hybrid of poetry, prose and drama. . . . A remarkably achieved novel which shows a writer in full command of the possibilities of the form.” — Irish Times “Sad and funny in equal measure. . . . As with everything Barry writes, it’s the language that grips you by the throat.” — Evening Standard (London) “This hypnotically beautiful tone poem is both wildly comic and deeply sad. . . . A transformative celebration of language itself.” —Booklist “Wildly and inventively coarse, and something to behold. As far as bleak Irish fiction goes, this is black tar heroin.” —Publishers Weekly
…Barry's buoyant third novel…like Beckett's
Godot, is about the wait. It's about hunkering down and admitting the presence of old ghosts. The reason Night Boat to Tangier works is that Maurice and Charlie are vivid company on the page, a couple of battered and slightly sinister vaudevillians on a late-career mental walkabout. They might have fallen out of an early Tom Waits ballad…We've met guys like Maurice and Charlie before, of course. They're nifty guys at loose ends, to use Jim Harrison's phrase, of a somewhat moth-eaten variety. We know them from Charles Bukowski's work, from the delightful novels of the Scottish writer James Kelman, from William Kennedy's Ironweed, from Elmore Leonard and many others. But Barry manages to make this territory his own, and to make it fresh.
The New York Times - Dwight Garner
A pair of Irish drug runners who’ve seen better days haunt a ferry terminal in southern Spain in search of a missing woman, in Barry’s grim and crackling latest (after
Beatlebone). Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond had a long and profitable run in drug smuggling, but now, with both just past 50, they are out of the business after a decline in their fortunes. The two stalk the ferry terminal in search of Maurice’s daughter, Dilly, whom they haven’t seen for three years but believe will be showing up on a ferry there, either coming from or going to Tangier. As the men wait and scan the crowds, they reminisce on better days and an unfortunately textbook betrayal, and flashbacks to pivotal moments in Maurice’s adult life reveal a torturous history. Whether Dilly is actually Maurice’s daughter is an animating question of the narrative, along with what the men’s true intentions are. Barry is a writer of the first rate, and his prose is at turns lean and lyrical, but always precise. Though some scenes land as stiff and schematic, the characters’ banter is wildly and inventively coarse, and something to behold . As far as bleak Irish fiction goes, this is black tar heroin. (Sept.)
Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond while away the hours in a ferry terminal in Algeciras, Spain, on the lookout for Maurice's daughter, Dilly, rumored to be traveling between Spain and Morocco. To pass the time, the middle-aged men reminisce about their intertwined lives and marvel at how a pair of Irish hoods from Cork became international drug smugglers, going over their rise and fall as criminals and lamenting their failures as men. When Dilly does arrive, she is unrecognizable. Upon noticing Maurice and Charlie, a shaken Dilly evades their surveillance to observe them from a safe distance, at the same time revisiting the events that led to her decision to leave Ireland and sever contact with her dad and "Uncle Charlie." Like them, Dilly has unanswered questions. But are they worth resolving?
VERDICT This third novel (following Beatlebone) by IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner Barry is deeply satisfying. Stylistically, it advances the author's talent for lyrical prose, with the dialog between Maurice and Charlie particularly magical. Similarly, Barry's narrative pacing creates and then brilliantly settles the tensions between his characters. For all readers of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.] —John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman
In this gifted Irish writer's muscular, magical, and often salty prose, several lives take shape as two older men look for a young woman in a ferry terminal.
Maurice and Charles, both past 50, are "fading Irish gangsters" once involved in bringing Moroccan hashish to Ireland via Spain. As the novel opens, they're sitting in the Algeciras ferry terminal because they've learned that Maurice's daughter, Dilly, who took off three years earlier, may be coming through on her way to Tangier. As the men question young vagrant travelers about Dilly—there's a complicated dog connection, among other things, that identifies such targets—flashbacks reveal the men's drug-trading days, dovetailing with Ireland's roaring Celtic Tiger economy. With wealth come poor choices, paranoia, and real threats. Maurice's marriage to Cynthia suffers, the men fall out—marked by a brilliant barroom scene—and over this trio hangs a much larger question that helps explain the Dilly vigil at Algeciras. The daughter is revealed as a strong, intriguing character in all-too-brief appearances while the pivotal Cynthia inexplicably gets short shrift. Mostly the two men talk, with a profligate, profane, comic splendor that mixes slang, Gaelic, artful insult, and the liturgy of long friendship. Barry (
Beatlebone, 2015, etc.) delights in the sound of two voices at play. In City of Bohane (2011), the banter of a brace of thugs named Stanners and Burke winds through the main tale. In the story "Ernestine and Kit" from Dark Lies the Island (2013), two women in their 60s trade seemingly harmless insults to comic effect, barely masking their evil intentions. Ever playful, the author titles the new novel's opening chapter "The Girls and the Dogs," which is also the title of a story in Dark Lies the Island that alludes to the Moroccan hash trade.
Barry adds an exceptional chapter to the literary history of a country that inspires cruelty and comedy and uncommon writing.