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John Banville

About The Author


John Banville at Foyles in 2009Born in Wexford, John Banville (pictured at Foyles in 2009) is an acclaimed novelist and screenwriter. He originally intended to be painter or an architect, but made the decision to travel, particularly to Italy and Greece, instead of attending university, and lived in the United States in the late sixties.

He published a collection of short stories, Long Lankin, in 1970 while he was working as a sub-editor at The Irish Press. He has since written seventeen novels, plus a further six (including Vengeance, published in August) under his crime writing pseudonym, Benjamin Black. he has been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books since 1990.

His fiction includes two trilogies: the 'Revolutions trilogy' (Doctor Copernicus, Kepler and The Newton Letter) focused on great scientific figures in history, while The Book of Evidence, Ghosts and Athena made up an unnamed triptych exploring the power of art. Doctor Copernicus won the James Tait Black Memorial Award and Kepler the Guardian Fiction Prize; The Book of Revolutions was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize.

The Sea by John BanvilleHis 2005 novel, The Sea, in which an art historian tries to come to terms with the deaths throughout his life of the people he loved, won, amongst many other accolades, the 2005 Man Booker Prize. It is the book which perhaps best illustrates the frequent comparisons of his writing with that of Vladimir Nabokov (although Banville cites Henry James as his primary influence).

Also amongst his most admired titles is The Untouchable (1997), written from the point of view of a gay art historian and double agent was broadly based on the lives of Louis MacNeice and Anthony Blunt.

In 2007 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was honoured with the Franz Kafka Prize in 2011.

Ancient Light by John BanvilleHis latest novel is Ancient Light, in which Alexander Cleave, an actor who believes his best days are behind him, remembers his first unlikely affair as a teenage boy in a small town in 1950s Ireland. He fell in love with the mother of his best friend, Billy Gray, in an affair characterised by the impetuousness and passion of young love.

But his reminiscences also bring to mind the dark and troubling memory of the suicide of his daughter ten years ago, his grief at which remains terrifyingly powerful.

Here John Banville shares twenty of his favourite books, ones which have made a deep impression upon him and to which he frequently returns.


Author Picks

Mary
(Hardback)
Vladimir Nabokov
Get it in the recently issued Penguin Classics hardback series.
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A Hundred Doors
(Paperback)
Michael Longley
This latest volume from one of our finest poets shows him at the height of his powers.
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£12.00
 
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£12.00
 
The World of Yesterday
(Paperback)
Stefan Zweig; Anthea Bell; David...
Zweig died by his own hand in Brazil in 1942 and was for a long time almost forgotten, though his books are now enjoying a renaissance. This luminous memoir is one of his best.
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Doctor Faustus: The Life of the ...
(Paperback)
Thomas Mann; H.T. Lowe-Porter
This is Mann’s final masterpiece, a life of the fictional composer Adrian Leverkühn, and an artistic meditation on the catastrophic history of Germany under Hitler.
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Duino Elegies
(Paperback)
Rainer Maria Rilke; M. D. Herter...
Magnificent, beautiful poetry by this twentieth-century master.
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£11.99
 
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Company/ Ill Seen Ill Said/ Worstward...
(Paperback)
Samuel Beckett
Ill Seen Ill said is a late, moving masterpiece. Not an easy read, but worth the effort.
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Dubliners
(Paperback)
James Joyce; Terence Brown
Late in his life an old friend suggested to Joyce that this was his best book, and after a hesitation Joyce agreed. Of course, it depends what you mean by ‘best’.
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£7.99
 
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The Portrait of a Lady
(Paperback)
Henry James; Philip Horne
Hard to choose between this and one of the last, great novels, but The Portrait of a Lady shows James in all his subtle mastery.
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£6.99
 
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Butcher's Moon
(Paperback)
Lawrence Block
Perhaps the greatest of all the Parker books by this great crime writer.
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Danube
(Paperback)
Claudio Magris; Patrick Creagh
A subtly poetic account of a journey along a great river, and a masterly evocation of our European homeland.
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The Last September
(Paperback)
Elizabeth Bowen
Published when she was still in her twenties, this was Bowen’s own favourite among her novels. Poetic and evocative.
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Poems: The Centenary Edition
(Paperback)
Elizabeth Bishop
This is superb poetry - open the book at any page and be immediately captivated.
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£14.99
 
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Dirty Snow
(Paperback)
Georges Simenon; Marc Romano; Louise...
One of the darkest of what Simenon called his romans durs, his ‘hard novels’. Set in Belgium during the war, with a cast of petty thieves and collaborators. Read it and shiver.
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The Chambers Dictionary
(Hardback)
Chambers; Chambers
The magnificent twenty-volume OED stands on my shelves, a monument to the English language, but Chambers sits on my desk, ready to hand, the tool of a workman.
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£40.00
 
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Available Titles By This Author

The Untouchable
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£9.99
 
The Sea
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£8.99
 
Birchwood
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£8.99
 
Doctor Copernicus
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£8.99
 
Kepler
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£8.99
 
Mefisto
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£8.99
 
The Book of Evidence
(Paperback)
John Banville
 
 
£8.99
 
Christine Falls
(Paperback)
Benjamin Black
 
 
£7.99
 
Elegy for April
(Paperback)
Benjamin Black
 
 
£7.99
 
A Death in Summer
(Paperback)
Benjamin Black
 
 
£7.99
 

Past Events for this Author

Latest Blog
Translating Elena Ferrante
29/08/2015

On publication of the fourth and final of the Neapolitan novels, The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante's translator, Ann Goldstein reveals reveals the joys and challenges of working on one of the great works of contemporary Italian literature.

Juniper ascending
27/08/2015

Ian Buxton, author of 101 Gins To Try Before you Die, looks at how boutique distillers have made gin the nation's favourite once again.

Blood will tell
24/08/2015

Gary Barker and Michael Kaufman reveal how explain how their years of work in war zones across the world drove them to write about the treatment of veterans in The Afghan Vampires Book Club. They also reveal that co-writing fiction is just as complicated as you might imagine!

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