John Freeman in Literary Hub:
With each new book, the size and scale of Julian Barnes’ curiosities continue to grow.
As he begins his seventies, they show no sign of diminishment. Barnes won the Man Booker Prize five years ago for The Sense of Ending, the tale of a man looking back on a botched moment of youth, but to begin reading Barnes here might be misleading.
He has written novels about aviators and detectives, Flaubert and theme-park life, short stories about aging, riffs on life in the kitchen, journalism about French politics, translations of the great diarist Alphonse Daudet, dozens of expertly argued reviews of modern art, tales of sex and revenge, and—for a brief period—a mystery series under the name Dan Kavanagh.
Barnes’s latest novel expands the territory even further. The Noise of Time is a harrowing, swift novel about the composer Dmitri Shostakovich and his attempt to compose music under Stalin. The book begins with the agonized Dmitri smoking a cigarette outside his apartment door, so terrified of the knock in the night he begins sleeping with his clothes on. And then not sleeping at all, just waiting in the hall. He doesn’t want to wake his wife.