Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Geoff Dyer

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Jeff Atman, a journalist, is in Venice to cover the opening of the Venice Art 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 spellbinding 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. 4.1 out of 5 based on 10 reviews
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 304
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication April 2009
ISBN 978-1847672704
Publisher Canongate
 

Jeff Atman, a journalist, is in Venice to cover the opening of the Venice Art 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 spellbinding 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.

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Mick Brown

Dyer’s style is studiedly conversational and discursive, frequently very funny – if sometimes irritatingly pleased with itself... Smart, provocative, often very funny, but ultimately deeply sobering, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is an early contender for the most original, and the cleverest, novel of the year.

03/04/2009

Read Full Review


The Times

Tim Teeman

For all his novel's lack of propulsion, Dyer is a witty and concise observer of landscapes: social, geographical and emotional... This second part of the novel is indulgently aimless, beautifully written and freighted with a significance that is never made clear. All the way through there is a sense of being being kept at arm's length, not quite being let in on the deeper meaning or the cosmic joke (if there is one). But Dyer's eccentric charm and barbed perceptiveness will hook you to the end.

27/03/2009

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Jan Morris

Atman and Dyer have between them given us a wonderfully entertaining book, but it is fundamentally sad. Sometimes it erupts into the overwrought, such as when Atman in Venice delightedly immerses himself in his beloved's urine as she pisses on the lavatory. Once or twice it is so frightfully funny that it verges upon the hysterical. But it ends poignantly. It is not real happiness that its anti-hero finds, not lasting emotion that he feels. The book is a prodigious display of virtuosity, but it seems to me stony at the heart.

04/04/2009

Read Full Review


The Literary Review

Sam Leith

[A] brilliant but broken-backed book... Sentence by sentence, line by line, this contains some of the funniest and best-observed writing I have read for years... The prime glories of the main part of this book, though, are not novelistic so much as journalistic. The exactness and wit with which Dyer describes his locations would be hard to better... Varanasi he clearly knows well and brings alive immaculately... I can’t place quite what sort of book it is, but I know that, whatever it is, I liked it.

01/04/2009

Read Full Review


The Observer

Alice O'Keeffe

The premise of this book could be the definition of what I generally look to avoid in a novel: a semi-autobiographical travelogue in which the protagonist, a British journalist approaching middle age, lives the high life at the Venice Biennale and then goes off to "find himself" in India. It seemed horribly certain to involve smugness and midlife crisis-related oversharing. Neither did the title, with its naff pun, bode well. Remarkably, from this material Geoff Dyer has fashioned a novel that is both funny and insightful.

29/03/2009

Read Full Review


The Independent on Sunday

Laurence Phelan

It is not without flaws: there is a fundamental disconnect built into its structure and the narrative never regains the momentum it loses in the jolt from part one to part two... But the writing seems effortlessly good, and it is erudite, full of subtle allusion and foreshadowing, highly observant and frequently funny. It is slippery, evasive even, and is liable to provoke wildly varying responses. It struck me as an ultimately sad novel...

10/05/2009

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Lionel Shriver

Jeff in Venice doesn't entirely satisfy as a novel. Nevertheless, Geoff Dyer is an extraordinarily reflective, perceptive and funny writer, as well as a fine prose stylist. He's a keen commentator on the ironies of contemporary life from the very first page, on which Jeff hovers over an e-mail, torn between hitting "send" and "delete": "If taking your own life were this easy, there'd be thousands of suicides every day."...Is this a travelogue or novel? Well, put enough great lines like those in any book and it's worth reading, whatever you want to call it.

04/04/2009

Read Full Review


Times Literary Supplement

Mark Crees

The new book is enjoyable to read, but the effect of reading it has already been eclipsed by Dyer's recent essay on the films of Tarkovsky. In fact, the farcical critique of the art world which courses through" Jeff in Venice" reaches a deeper vein in another recent essay," Cycle of Life and Death", which appeared last summer and was begun, presumably, after Dyer had written his novel.

02/04/2009

Read Full Review


The Spectator

Lee Langley

The first 93 pages are vintage Dyer, painfully funny, slyly observant, brilliant, full of wild misery... [On Death in Varanasi:] You can almost see the T-shirt: ‘I went to India and lost my Self.’ Alas, he has also pretty much lost his sense of humour, though black comedy surfaces intermittently. There is a vivid sense of place; Varanasi crumbles colourfully into its waterfront. But description is something other writers can do. From Jeff Dyer we want more.

01/04/2009

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Hugo Barnacle

Dyer is very nearly a very good writer, and you can see why people go on about him. But his theme always seems to be What I Did On My Holidays, and in that sense he has not come far from English class in primary... Dyer thinks he has a talent for sex scenes, but this is not the case... [The second half of the book] resembles an extended version of that conversation you are always forced to have with anyone who has come back from India.

12/04/2009

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore