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The Noise of Time - Review

March 7, 2016

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The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes - Review

This masterful novel by the author of Arthur & George, Metroland, Flaubert’s Parrot and the Man Booker Prize-winning The Sense Of An Ending re-imagines the life of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

It examines the difficulties of being a creative artist whilst living under a totalitarian government, and the many compromises and sacrifices he has to make in order keep himself and his family safe.

Moving from 1937, the Stalin era, to the 1970s, when Khrushchev was in power, it illuminates the constant fear and the shifting loyalties Shostakovich had to deal with – from being officially denounced to being forced to defend the Soviet Union on a trip to America.

More than anything, it underlines how much easier it is to condemn or sympathise with an oppressive regime from a distance than it is to actually live under it.

Spotlighting three distinct moments in Shostakovich’s life, it’s a poetic, moving and very human story which questions our conventional ideas of what constitutes bravery and what constitutes cowardice. 

Written by Ruth, Marketing 

  • The Noise of Time cover
    The Noise of Time

    In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

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