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Levels of Life

Julian Barnes

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Published by Jonathan Cape, part of Vintage Publishing

Format: Hardback


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EAN: 9780224098151
Published: 4 Apr 2013


About the book


‘You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...’ Julian Barnes's new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. One of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize described him as ‘an unparalleled magus of the heart’. This book confirms that opinion.

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What the critics say

It is extraordinary... [It] would seem to pull off the impossible: to recreate, on the page, what it is like to be alive in the world.
- Guardian

This is a book of rare intimacy and honesty about love and grief. To read it is a privilege. To have written it is astonishing.
- The Times

It’s an unrestrained, affecting piece of writing, raw and honest and more truthful for its dignity and artistry... Anyone who has loved and suffered loss, or just suffered, should read this book, and re-read it, and re-read it.
- Independent

Levels of Life is both a supremely crafted artefact and a desolating guidebook to the land of loss.
- Sunday Times

While one might expect a Barnes book to impress, delight, move, disconcert or amuse, the last thing for which his work prepares us is the blast of paralysingly direct emotion that concludes Levels of Life.
- Daily Telegraph

Levels of Life is, deep-down, a heartfelt attempt to chronicle the strange journey that follows the death of a loved one.
- Mail on Sunday

A Taj Mahal made of paper not white marble.
- Observer

A magnificent blast of unflinching prose.
- Daily Telegraph

Powerful and well-articulated.
- Daily Mail

It is true that the private language of love doesn’t generally translate; yet how vividly Barnes invokes the power and delicacy of what is lost to him.
- Sunday Telegraph

Profoundly emotive.
- Sunday Times

He writes with aphoristic simplicity and a calm profundity, without ever sounding self-pitying, maudlin or trite… Levels of Life is at times unbearably sad, but it is also exquisite: a paean of love, and on love, and a book unexpectedly full of life.
- Herald

A grief-stricken, achingly precise and bravely unconsoling exploration into the inadequacy of words.
- Metro

An impassioned, raw insight into a survivor’s grief.
- Sport

A confession of grief so emotively described that it leaves the reader cold with awe.
- Irish Examiner

A moving and important read.
- Good Housekeeping

Its resonance comes from all it doesn't say, as well as what it does; from the depth of love we infer from the desert of grief.
- Guardian

Moving, heartfelt, exact and telling… A remarkable narrative that is as raw in its emotion as it is characteristically elegant in its execution.
- Irish Times

Anyone who has loved and lost can’t fail to be moved by this devastating book.
- Independent

Seemingly incapable of writing a bad sentence… Important and brilliant.
- Sunday Business Post

It is the more piercing for Barnes’s refusal to sentimentalise himself or others… A force-ten account of the ongoing pain of having loved entirely and lost entirely.
- Spectator

Smartly structured.
- RTE Guide

Barnes writes from the heart; but what an informed, proud, devoted heart he has.
- Standpoint

Essentially a musing on the miracle and tragedy of love.
- UK Regional Press Syndication

A precisely composed, often deeply moving hybrid of non-fiction, ‘fabulation’, and straightforward reminiscence and contemplation.
- Times Literary Supplement

Julian Barnes is a prose sculptor.
- Totally Dublin

Intricately wrought.
- Literary Review

Rich, ludic, and achingly sad, Barnes' shortest book, it turns out, is also his most profound.
- Lancet

A luminously strange fusion of biography, fiction and memoir, combining balloons, Sarah Bernhardt and lost love in an irresistible alchemy.
- New Statesman

Barnes reformed the conventional autobiography.
- Guardian

Dealt a blow that left me reeling… [it] combines ballooning, photography, love and bereavement, and if you can't think how, you need to read it.
- Observer

Barnes' most audacious formal experiment yet. A playful historical novel is yoked with a straight, bleak, wise lamentation for the death of his wife. The combination… looks impossible, but combine they do, forming a compound as potent as it is poignant.
- Telegraph

The cumulative effect of the three pieces is haunting.
- Sunday Times

A deeply moving meditation on love and loss, the reality of grief, the power of art.
- Herald

A love story surrounded by meditations... The meditations keep coming back to me.
- Irish Times

Heartbreaking... Remarkable... The obliquity of the opening makes the directness of the final section all the more forceful.
- Guardian

Clear-eyed, honest and unsentimental, it’s a moving meditation on love and loss, the reality of grief, the power of art.
- Scotsman

Julian Barnes magnificently turns an essay on ballooning into a beautiful eulogy to his late wife Pat Kavanagh.
- The Times

A breathtakingly moving book.
- Daily Telegraph

This is an unexpectedly heartbreaking, profound and highly individual response to the incapacitating agony of personal grief.
- Irish Times

One of the best, most moving things you’ll ever read.
- Evening Standard

Category-defying… Levels of Life is a book that levels with us only up to a point. Its resonance comes from what it doesn't say, as well as what it does, from the depths of love we infer, from the desert of grief.
- Guardian

[An] astounding book… It will be read as long as people can read.
- Independent

About the Author

Julian Barnes was born in Leicester and moved to London in 1946. He is the author of twenty books, and in 2011 won the Man Booker Prize for The Sense of an Ending. He met Pat Kavanagh in 1978.

Pat Kavanagh was born in South Africa and moved to London in 1964. She worked in advertising and then, for forty years, as a literary agent. She married Julian Barnes in 1979, and died in 2008.

Julian Barnes

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