Night Boat to Tangier: Kevin Barry's fascinating hybrid of poetry, drama and ferocious prose

Review: This is a remarkably achieved novel, full of language that opens up worlds

Kevin Barry: There is an energy and  intensity to his language.

Kevin Barry: There is an energy and intensity to his language.

There are no words, at times, to describe what Kevin Barry does with words. In this latest novel, the Irish writer has almost invented a new genre, a fascinating hybrid of poetry, prose and drama. It is as if you are never quite sure that what you are reading is a line of verse, a sentence of fiction or a stage direction or, perhaps, all three.

Night Boat in Tangier opens with two men, Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond waiting in the Spanish port city of Algeciras for the night boat from Tangier. They expect or hope that Maurice’s estranged daughter, Dilly, will disembark from the boat and that through the miracle of reconciliation they might find a way back to a time before the carnage of their adult life.

Maurice and Charlie are where Vladimir and Estragon meet Cork city, Beckettian gentleman of a certain age foxed by a merry-go-round of addiction and mental collapse but who still believe in the decorum of language to see them through the long nights of endless, frustrated waiting.

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