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Publisher's Summary

Every two years the international art world descends on Venice for the opening of the Biennale. Among them is Jeff Atman, a jaded and dissolute journalist, whose dedication to the cause of Bellini-fuelled party-going is only intermittently disturbed by the obligation to file a story. When he meets the spellbinding Laura, he is rejuvenated, ecstatic. Their romance blossoms quickly, but is it destined to disappear just as rapidly?
Every day thousands of pilgrims head to the banks of the Ganges at Varanasi, the holiest Hindu city in India. Among their number is a narrator who may or may not be the Atman previously seen in Venice. Intending to visit only for a few days, he ends up staying for months, and suddenly finds a hitherto unexamined idea of himself, the self. In a romance he can only observe, he sees a reflection of the kind of pleasures that, willingly or not, he has renounced. In the process, two ancient and watery cities become versions of each other. Could two stories, in two different cities, actually be one and the same story?
An irrepressible and wildly original novel of erotic fulfillment and spiritual yearning, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is dead-on in its evocation of place, longing, and the possibility of neurotic enlightenment.
©2009 Geoff Dyer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio
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Critic Reviews

“A vigorous mash-up of satire, romance, travelogue and existential treatise…his best yet.” ( Time magazine, “The Top 10 Everything of 2009”)
“A raucous delight…Very funny, full of nerve, gutsy and delicious. Venice will never be the same again!” (Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Frank on 01-28-11

Hate Jeff in Venice, Love Death in Varanasi

I've been a Geoff Dyer fan for years and I hit a wall of disappointment listening to "Jeff in Venice". I couldn't figure out why the text even existed. Who could care about the sex life and gorged ego of the lead character? There is little reason to read this first half of the book although I forced myself to finish it.
"Death in Varanasi" is a fresh start with the same, or similar, character. Only one problem with "Varanasi." The narrator doesn't know how to pronounce the name of the city. It drove me wacky listening to him mispronounce it over and over again. Finally, I learned to ignore his pronunciation and fell deeply into the story. This is a great tale of "neurotic enlightenment." I started listening to "Venice" again after finishing "Varanasi," but it still wasn't worth the time. I listened "Varanasi" again and fell into it with a new level of comprehension. This is a great short novel. Five stars for "Death in Varanasi" minus one star for pronunciation. No stars for "Jeff in Venice." Simply ignore it.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Mari on 03-12-15

A Great Contemporary Novel

I am so surprised at some of these reviews. This is a real thought piece, not something to be taken at face value. To the reviewer who "hated Jeff in Venice", you were supposed to hate him. Here the Biennale represents the height of contemporary decadence. It is one long string of vacuous conversations, holding together a narrative of sex and drugs that make up the contemporary art scene. It's easy to make fun of contemporary art. Dyer takes it one step further and has written a scathing critique of the entire art world. Anyone picking this up and hoping for Thomas Mann will be disappointed. This is Tom Wolf, unleashed on the new millennium.

The book changes gears rapidly and beautifully when we get to Varanasi. The western comparisons to Venice are there, as we witness a transformation of the main character. He enters onto a zen journey into the "true and universal self". After all, isn't that what Atman means?

This is a great contemporary novel. One worth either listening to, or reading, carefully.

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