ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • “A darkly incantatory tragicomedy of love and betrayal ... Beautifully paced, emotionally wise.” —The Boston Globe
In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen—Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs—sit at night, none too patiently. The pair are trying to locate Maurice’s estranged daughter, Dilly, whom they’ve heard is either arriving on a boat coming from Tangier or departing on one heading there.
This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals, and serial exiles. Rendered with the dark humor and the hardboiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fiction writers at work today, Night Boat to Tangier is a superbly melancholic melody of a novel, full of beautiful phrases and terrible men.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Who ever thought listening to a pair of lifelong criminals reminisce could be so entertaining? Irish author Kevin Barry’s captivating novel begins with two grizzled, fiftysomething men passing the night at a ferry terminal in Algeciras, Spain. Their names are Maurice and Charlie, and with their gnarled faces and cocksure attitudes, it’s no surprise they’re drug smugglers. We didn’t exactly fall in love with Kevin Barry’s criminal protagonists—we fell in love with their conversations about all the dangerous, thrilling, and poignant moments from their pasts. From dealing drugs in Cork to running from thugs in Barcelona to Maurice’s experience with love, Barry does a great job hooking us and making us reflect on issues of family, morality, and regret. Do men like this deserve our sympathy—after everything they’ve done? Fans of Roddy Doyle and Frank McCourt will love this wild, dialogue-driven story about hard men letting their guards down.
A pair of Irish drug runners who've seen better days haunt a ferry terminal in southern Spain in search of a missing woman, in Barry's grim and crackling latest (after Beatlebone). Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond had a long and profitable run in drug smuggling, but now, with both just past 50, they are out of the business after a decline in their fortunes. The two stalk the ferry terminal in search of Maurice's daughter, Dilly, whom they haven't seen for three years but believe will be showing up on a ferry there, either coming from or going to Tangier. As the men wait and scan the crowds, they reminisce on better days and an unfortunately textbook betrayal, and flashbacks to pivotal moments in Maurice's adult life reveal a torturous history. Whether Dilly is actually Maurice's daughter is an animating question of the narrative, along with what the men's true intentions are. Barry is a writer of the first rate, and his prose is at turns lean and lyrical, but always precise. Though some scenes land as stiff and schematic, the characters' banter is wildly and inventively coarse, and something to behold. As far as bleak Irish fiction goes, this is black tar heroin.
Aging Cork gangsters reckon with the past and present