The Gorgeous Grisly


Kevin Barry: Night Boat to Tangier, Canongate Books, 2020 (2019)

Some novels, you think (improbably), “I could’ve written this.” But Night Boat to Tangier? Never. Neither the what nor the how of it.

Gorgeous phrases, grisly world. Every line charged, explosive with danger, humour, menace, pain. The narrative swerving against expectation. A master class in dialogue and character. One figure intensely absent, but alive through tangents that ricochet off others, like a shape never drawn directly but instead emerging crosshatched, the hot heart of the story.

And Irish. Just saying. Anna Burns. Sebastian Barry. Colm Toibin. Sue Rainsford. Just pointing out.

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