Gabriel Josipovici’s The Cemetery in Barnes is a short, intense novel that opens in elegiac mode, advances quietly towards something dark and disturbing, before ending with an eerie calm. Its three plots, relationships and time-scales are tightly woven into a single story; three voices – as in an opera by Monteverdi – provide the soundtrack, enhanced by a chorus of friends and acquaintances. The main voice is that of a translator who moves from London to Paris and then to Wales, the setting for an unexpected conflagration. The ending at once confirms and suspends the reader’s darkest intuitions.
The Cemetery in Barnes reaffirms Josipovici’s status as ‘one of the very best writers now at work in the English language, and a man whose writing, both in fiction and in critical studies, displays a unity of sensibility and intelligence and deep feeling difficult to overvalue at any time’ (Guardian)
About the author
Gabriel Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940 of Russo-Italian, Romano-Levantine parents. He lived in Egypt from 1945 to 1956, when he came to Britain. He read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating with a First in 1961. From 1963 to 1998 he taught at the University of Sussex. He is the author of eighteen novels, three volumes of short stories, nine critical works, numerous plays for stage and radio, and a memoir of his mother, the poet and translator Sacha Rabinovitch. He is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement.
The judges on the shortlist
Nick Lezard on The Cemetery in Barnes
The Cemetery in Barnes is a subtle, disturbing meditation on death and desire, on murder, suicide and arson glimpsed, as it were, out of the corner of the eye; an examination of a life lived in three locations and told – the cue being taken from Monteverdi’s Orfeo – in three interweaving voices, whose total effect has the disturbing power of a bad dream.