From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea comes a novel that is at once a gloriously earthy romp and a wise look at the terrible, wonderful plight of being human.
“One of the great living masters of English-language prose. The Infinities is a dazzling example of that mastery.” —Los Angeles Times
On a languid midsummer’s day in the countryside, the Godley family gathers at the bedside of Adam, a renowned mathematician and their patriarch. But they are not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a clan of mischievous immortals—Zeus, Pan, and Hermes among them—who begin to stir up trouble for the Godleys, to sometimes wildly unintended effect.
Having apparently exorcised his taste for bloody intrigue with his pseudonym, Benjamin Black, Banville returns to high form (and his given name) with a novel even more pristine than his Booker-winning The Sea. Old Adam Godley lies dying, flying through his past on the way to eternity while his brooding son (also named Adam) sleepwalks through his marriage to the amorous Helen, and young Adam's "loony sister," Petra, writes an encyclopedia of human morbidity. But Adam and his brood are not alone, nor is our narrator any detached third person: the gods are afoot, chiefly Hermes, disguised as a farmer, whispering to us of mortal love, guiding old Adam on his way, and laying bare all the Godleys' secrets while divine Zeus conducts "illicit amours" with Helen. Hermes assures us that mortal speech is "barely articulate gruntings," yet Banville has the perfect instrument for his textured prose, almost never as finely tuned as this. The narrative is rife with asides, but it is to the common trajectory of a life that despite the noise crowding ailing Adam's repose it lends its most consoling notes, elevating the temporal and profane to the holy eternal.
This book is so beautiful both in its writing and in its exploration of life, love, and family, so empathetic and compassionate in its kind consideration of what it means to be truly human—a theme highlighted by juxtaposing an ordinary family with the gods who move among them, making mischief and wishing they could pierce the veil between their world and ours and have what we have. Haunting, eloquent, thought-provoking, inspiring.