A New York Times Notable Book
A Best Book of the Year: The Economist, The New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Slate.com, and Time
In Venice, at the Biennale, a jaded, bellini-swigging journalist named Jeff Atman meets a beautiful woman and they embark on a passionate affair.
In Varanasi, an unnamed journalist (who may or may not be Jeff) joins thousands of pilgrims on the banks of the holy Ganges. He intends to stay for a few days but ends up remaining for months.
Their journey—as only the irrepressibly entertaining Geoff Dyer could conjure—makes for an uproarious, fiendishly inventive novel of Italy and India, longing and lust, and the prospect of neurotic enlightenment.
Six years ago, Dyer took the first step toward his latest book with Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It, in which he seasoned antic accounts of travels in Libya and Detroit with a surreptitiously visionary essay about his pilgrimages to the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Here, he has taken that sensual and allusive mix and turned it into art, by giving it a single flowing narrative, a deep and uncensored sense of engagement and a complex structure that replays the stories of Somerset Maugham and Henry James among today's global nomads without trying to make too big a deal of it. Until Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi…I never dreamed that a kind of Dantean comedy could be made out of fights in A.T.M. lines and monkeys filching sunglasses. But it can. In the weeks since I devoured Jeff in Venice, I don't think a day has passed without my thinking back to it.