Over the past few years Julian Barnes has been writing compressed, spare fiction and non-fiction which addresses the great themes of our time. In The Sense of An Ending (winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2011), The Noise of Time and now The Only Story, he has created an outstanding triptych of short novels that will emerge as a towering achievement of early 21st century English-language writing.
The Only Story opens in stockbroker country in the 1960s, complete with a tennis club, a golf course, unreliable cars, and prodigious quantities of alcohol and love. Paul is nineteen, home from university for the summer, and partnered with Susan, a local housewife of forty-nine, dressed in tennis whites with green piping, in the mixed doubles tournament. This chance pairing leads to a lifelong relationship but one laced with tragedy and regret, violence and repression. Barnes examines what happens when we allow ‘a social life to stand in for an emotional life’ and how co-dependency and its concomitant shame affect all concerned. A masterpiece of both restraint and insight.
Barnes does very few events and has agreed to talk about his writing with particular emphasis on this latest book. It will be a privilege to welcome him to Dulwich.
An Evening with Julian Barnes
Thursday 8th February, 19.00 – 20.30 at All Saints Church, Lovelace Rd, London SE21 8JY. £20 (admission + book) or £30 (admission for two + book). Tickets are available online here.