The Noise of Time (Hardcover)

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Barnes employs the famous modernist Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich as his protagonist in his new novel. In stunning, crisp, methodical prose, The Noise of Time is divided into three sections, each focusing on a defining moment in Shostakovich's life--the first in 1936 after he finds himself denounced by Stalin, and the final in the 1960s, as he reflects on the relative time of peace in Russia and his appointment to the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation Union of Composers. Barnes charts Shostakovich's turbulent career, falling in and out of favor with Stalin, forced to balance the whims of a dictator while staying true to his art. A disquieting, beautiful, atmospheric novel, this powerful book will have you pondering the role of art and artist long after you've put it down.

— Erin


A compact masterpiece dedicated to the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich: Julian Barnes's first novel since his best-selling, Man Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending.

In 1936, Shostakovich, just thirty, fears for his livelihood and his life. Stalin, hitherto a distant figure, has taken a sudden interest in his work and denounced his latest opera. Now, certain he will be exiled to Siberia (or, more likely, executed on the spot), Shostakovich reflects on his predicament, his personal history, his parents, various women and wives, his children--and all who are still alive themselves hang in the balance of his fate. And though a stroke of luck prevents him from becoming yet another casualty of the Great Terror, for decades to come he will be held fast under the thumb of despotism: made to represent Soviet values at a cultural conference in New York City, forced into joining the Party and compelled, constantly, to weigh appeasing those in power against the integrity of his music. Barnes elegantly guides us through the trajectory of Shostakovich's career, at the same time illuminating the tumultuous evolution of the Soviet Union. The result is both a stunning portrait of a relentlessly fascinating man and a brilliant exploration of the meaning of art and its place in society.

About the Author

JULIAN BARNES is the author of twenty previous books including, most recently, Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art. He has received the Man Booker Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the David Cohen Prize for Literature, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in France, the Prix Médicis and the Prix Femina; in Austria, the State Prize for European Literature. In 2004 he was named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in London.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101947241
ISBN-10: 1101947241
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date: May 10th, 2016
Pages: 224
Language: English