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John Banville  [ Ireland ]

Biography

John Banville Portrait
©:Douglas Banville

Guest 2009.

Bibliography

Das Buch der Beweise
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 1991
[Ü: Dorle Merkel]

Doktor Kopernikus
Fischer
Frankfurt/Main, 1999
[Ü: Bernhard Robben]

Geister
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2000
[Ü: Christa Schuenke]

Die See
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2006
[Ü: Christa Schuenke]

Der silberne Schwan
(Pseudonym:
Benjamin Black)
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2009
[Ü: Christa Schuenke]

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He attended catholic school and St. Peter’s College before starting to work for Aer Lingus in Dublin. Working for an airline allowed him to travel easily and frequently, of which he took full advantage. He lived in the USA from 1968 to 1969 and, after returning to Ireland, worked as a journalist for the »Irish Press« in Dublin. During that time, he wrote short stories and his first novels, which were published in the 1970s. In the years that followed, apart from his own writing, he made a name for himself as a literary critic. From 1988 to 1999, he was literary editor of the section on books in the »Irish Times«. Since leaving this position, he has been working as a freelance author and book reviewer.

Banville achieved his literary breakthrough with his third novel »Doctor Copernicus« (1976), a portrait of the astronomer. He was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the novel, which was the first in a series of books on the subject of scientists and scientific ideas. These include a portrait of Johannes Kepler (»Kepler« 1981), a book about Sir Isaac Newton (»The Newton Letter«, 1982) and a novel entitled »Mefisto« (1986), a neo-Faustian work set in a mathematician’s world of numbers. In these works, one can already see Banville’s predilection for characters who carry their own dark secrets. This becomes particularly evident in his trilogy »The Book of Evidence« (1989), »Ghosts« (1993) and »Athena« (1995), told from the perspective of narrator and murderer, Freddie Montgomery, a scoundrel of Nabokovian dimensions. In general, Vladimir Nabokov is major source of inspiration in Banville’s work, as are the Irish literary greats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce.

His greatest international success to date has been the novel »The Sea« (2005), in which an older art historian returns to a house on the sea where he spent his holidays as a child after his wife died of cancer. Critics responded by hailing Banville as a »great stylist« and praising him »for his powerfully eloquent meditations« (»Die Zeit«). For several years, he has been writing mystery novels under the pseudonym, Benjamin Black. John Banville has been awarded many literary prizes, including the Man Booker Prize and the Irish Book Award’s »Novel of the Year« prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. The author lives and works in Dublin.

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