Review – The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

Hello,

I found time to write another review. I survived Christmas, my 30th birthday, and New Years Eve, found a new hobby to add to my ever-growing list (I finally treated myself to a new sewing machine) and my thesis is still in the works. I never stopped reading though (you probably know that if you follow me on Goodreads or LovelyBooks) and so I read Julian Barnes‘ latest novel The Noise of Time.

The Noise of Time
Image linked from Jonathan Cape¹

Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich, a Soviet composer, cannot escape Power in his country. No matter what he does, his life and his music are influenced by the government and he can’t seem to live life as a free man.

The Noise of Time is far from an easy read. If you aren’t familiar with Shostakovich, you might get the feeling of being abandoned in a maze. The novelization of Shostakovich’s life is not written in chronological order. A third-person narrator tells the reader what’s going on, he isn’t showing them and that creates a great distance between the plot and the reader. This, plus the fact that there is very little dialogue, makes reading The Noise of Time a slow process that requires concentration.

When I started the book, I had no idea what it was about. The official blurb doesn’t give away much and so I felt lost until I reached the second half of the novel. This is where I was finally able to sum up what I had read so far. If I had known that The Noise of Time was a fictional account of a composer’s life, things might have been different.

Julian Barnes’ novel has the air of a non-fiction book. Even though he writes about Shostakovich’s emotions, the reader is too distanced to feel them. The composer is long gone and so are his thoughts and his feelings. The Noise of Time might not be for everyone, but if you are interested in Shostakovich’s life and don’t shy Barnes’ narrative technique you should give it a shot.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1110913/the-noise-of-time/
² A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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