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Jeff Atman, a journalist, is in Venice to cover the opening of the Biennale. He’s expecting to see a load of art, go to a lot of parties and drink too many bellinis. He’s not expecting to meet the spell-binding Laura, who will completely transform his few days in the city.
Another city, another assignment: this time on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi. Amid the crowds, ghats and chaos of India’s holiest Hindu city, a different kind of transformation lies in wait.
A beautifully told story of erotic love and spiritual yearning, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is playful, stylish, sensual, comic, ingenious and utterly captivating. It confirms Geoff Dyer as one of the most exciting authors writing in English today.
‘This novel contrasts an extreme of worldliness (sex and status worries in Venice) with the height of otherworldliness (the burning ghats along the Ganges). Geoff Dyer is the most companionable writer at work today and he gives us an extremely involving guided tour of two cities and a man’s disintegrating self (or, as the Hindus call it, the ‘atman’).’
‘Geoff Dyer is one of my favourite of all contemporary writers. I love his sense of the absurd, his pessimism mixed with robust good cheer, his beautifully crafted sentences, his jokes and his intelligence. I first came fully under his spell with Yoga for People…, then came the relentlessly perceptive and thought-provoking The Ongoing Moment and now we have Jeff in Venice…—a sad, funny, lyrical, furious story of an ordinary man’s momentary redemption and decline. Please take the time to read it and fall under Dyer’s spell.’
‘A haunting, if frequently hilarious, meditation on love and art, life and music, death and bananas, all reflected and refracted in the twinned mirror pools of Venice and Varanasi. And how rare it is to find a book so smart and winning that doesn’t shy away from compelling philosophical investigation. I loved this book.’
‘Geoff Dyer is a true original—one of those rare voices in contemporary literature that never ceases to surprise, disturb and delight. Risky, breathtakingly candid, intellectual, cool, outrageous, laconic and sometimes shocking, Geoff Dyer is a must-read for our confused and perplexing times.’
‘“Oh no, not the art world” I started to say to myself, but what I got from Dyer was a raucous delight. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is truly surprising—very funny, full of nerve, gutsy and delicious. Venice will never be the same again!’
‘Dyer is very funny, in both senses—sort of like a post-modern Kingsley Amis. His writing is acute and bad tempered in the great British tradition, and his prose is the equal of anyone in the country. A national treasure.’
‘Engaging and funny…Dyer is a witty and concise observer of landscapes: social, geographical and emotional…[his] eccentric charm and barbed perceptiveness will hook you to the end.’
‘Dyer’s style is studiedly conversational and discursive, frequently very funny… [in Varanasi] the writing takes on a lyricism befitting its setting…Smart, provocative, often very funny, but ultimately deeply sobering, Jeff in Venice is an early contender for the most original, and the cleverest, novel of the year.’
‘[Dyer is] a smart, witty writer…extraordinarily reflective, perceptive and funny…as well as a fine prose stylist. He’s a keen commentator on the ironies of contemporary life from the very first page.’
‘There are few writers at work today whose humour and intelligence radiate so clearly from their texts. Dyer’s body of work may be disparate, with its fictions and para-fictions, its essays and non-fiction excursions, but the author’s personal charm gives it a fine unity.’
‘The book begins with sparkles of fun and humour but gradually the mood deepens as the banality of life is exposed…This book is beguiling. Part black comedy, part travel memoir, it is achingly honest about how difficult it is to find meaning in life. Dyer is too good a writer to offer cheap solutions to the quandary and mysteries of life but he forces the reader to think about them.’
‘Dyer is an inspired and quintessentially English humorist of despair whose Jeff in Venice is about mystical experiences and the death of the ego…..the spell cast by Dyer arises from the counterpoint and interplay between these stock characteristics and what lies just beneath—a stratum of dismayed self-knowledge and existential doubt, and a profound yearning for something more meaningful. The effect swarming out of every page, often every sentence, is powerful and lingering.’
‘Original, affecting, and unexpected.’
‘This haunting novel is like a rough guide to transformation: moving from scenes of erotic decadence to scenes of squalor, the death it describes is that of craving, of intention, even of self.’