In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block.
He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.
So begins Julian Barnes’ first novel since his Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending. A story about the collision of art and power, about human compromise, human cowardice and human courage,
Justifiably described as Barnes’ masterpiece, The Noise of Time is part fictionalised biography and displays again Barnes’s seemingly effortless ability to make the personal universal and to do so with brevity, precision and conscience. Encountering the same man at three stages in his life, the power and impact of the individual takes on a larger significance, widened into a contemplation of personal responsibility and the limits of human endurance under the influence of power.
It is a book in dialogue; with the past, with the legacy of totalitarianism and more directly with Frank Kermode’s 1967 work of the same name and with the book both works originate from, the original Noise of Time, memoirs that contain an account of a life of tragic genius, that of Dmitri Shostakovich.