The Noise of Time
One of the Best Books of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle 1936: Dmitri Shostakovich, just thirty years old, reckons with the first of three conversations with power that will irrevocably shape his life. Stalin, hitherto a distant figure, has suddenly denounced the young composer's latest opera. Certain he will be exiled to Siberia (or, more likely, shot dead on the spot), Shostakovich reflects on his predicament, his personal history, his parents, his daughter--all of those hanging in the balance of his fate. And though a stroke of luck prevents him from becoming yet another casualty of the Great Terror, he will twice more be swept up by the forces of despotism: coerced into praising the Soviet state at a cultural conference in New York in 1948, and finally bullied into joining the Party in 1960. All the while, he is compelled to constantly weigh the specter of power against the integrity of his music. An extraordinary portrait of a relentlessly fascinating man, The Noise of Time is a stunning meditation on the meaning of art and its place in society.
Long-listed for Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017.
"A masterpiece of biographical fiction... A great novel, Barnes's masterpiece... Exquisite, intimate detail. He has given us a novel that is powerfully affecting, a condensed masterpiece that traces the lifelong battle of one man's conscience, one man's art, with the insupportable exigencies of totalitarianism." -- Alex Preston Observer "Barnes's sombre, brilliant new novel opens with a scene like something from a story by Chekhov... Gleaming with intelligence and literary flair, this elegantly composed fictional meditation offers a fresh gloss on a musical genius's collisions and collusions with power." -- Peter Kemp Sunday Times "[Barnes is] a master of the narrative sidestep... Not just a novel about music, but something more like a musical novel... The story itself is structured in three parts that come together like a broken chord. It is a simple but brilliant device, and one that goes right to the heart of this novel." -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst The Times "A compelling novel about art and power, courage and cowardice, and the capriciousness of fate...Barnes brilliantly captures the composer's conflicted state of mind...This book is only 190 pages long, but it packs an extraordinary emotional punch." -- Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler "This is a slim novel about the big things: art, fear, Power...history's farcical, tragic repetitions. It is also quite excellent." -- Stephanie Cross Daily Mail
Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, Cross Channel, The Lemon Table and Pulse; four collections of essays; and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times Number One bestseller Levels of Life. He lives in London.