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Extended Audio Sample Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi: A Novel Audiobook, by Geoff Dyer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,481 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Geoff Dyer Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9781455198443
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Dyer is very funny, in both senses—sort of like a post-modern Kingsley Amis. His writing is acute and bad tempered in the great British tradition, and his prose is the equal of anyone in the country. A national treasure.”

    Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth

  • “A raucous delight. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is truly surprising—very funny, full of nerve, gutsy and delicious. Venice will never be the same again!”

    Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient

  • “A sad, funny, lyrical, furious story.”

    Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life

  • “Profoundly haunting and fearless…Dyer at his very best.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Wonderful observations, pungent and funny.”

    New Yorker

  • “No contemporary writer blends genres better than Geoff Dyer, and his latest novel—a vigorous mash-up of satire, romance, travelogue, and existential treatise—is his best yet…Dyer excels at savage comedy—see his tableau of jaded art critics desperately swilling Bellinis—but he’s even better on the profound pleasures and indignities of the flesh, which are the forces that unite his novel’s two very separate worlds.”

    Time magazine, “The Top 10 Everything of 2009”

  • “Dyer’s writerly versatility braids into something madly compelling as the narration becomes comically and tragically unreliable.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Intoxicating…A roller-coaster ride.”

    National Geographic Traveler

  • “Highly imaginative…sensuous, lyrical prose brimming with colorful detail…Dyer [writes with] intelligence and stylistic grace, and his ability to evoke atmosphere with impressive clarity is magical…For all his wit and cleverness, Dyer is unflinching in conveying the empty lives of his contemporaries, and in doing so he’s written a work of exceptional resonance.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “[Jeff in Venice] is a dirty satire on a decadent scene, but it’s also wise, wistful, funny, and achingly sad.”

    Very Short List

  • “Funny, insightful, and accessible, [Jeff in Venice] allows the reader to move easily between the two cities and connect with the two characters, or two halves of the same person…[Dyer is] an innovative, genre-bending writer.”

    Booklist

  • “A mere description of the story line only scratches the surface of this funny and mysterious work. Dyer’s witticisms and wordplay, woven into the ongoing commentary of the history, geography, and psychology of Venice and then Varanasi, are brilliant.”

    Library Journal

  • “Geoff Dyer is a True Original—one of those rare voices in contemporary literature that never ceases to surprise, disturb and delight. A must read for our confused and perplexing times.”

    William Boyd, author of Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928–1960

  • A 2009 Economist Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2009 Slate Magazine Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2009 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • An Indie Next Notable Title, May 2009
  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • A 2009 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Flelly | 2/18/2014

    " I just loved it. I am still figuring it out, though. This is a man's, pitch dark version of Eat, Pray, Love. I am a sucker for an 'I go crazy in India' story. Any and every day of the week. Yes, please. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mike Tarasovic | 2/5/2014

    " The two halves of this book never really came together for me, and while the first half was the more entertaining of the two, it was also the more self-absorbed and therefore kind of annoying. Somebody would like this book, I'm sure, but I can't think of anyone I'd recommend it to. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Abigail King | 2/1/2014

    " heads or tails. jupiter or hera? venice or varanasi? I loved this book. he had me at the title, but the rest lives up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcus | 1/20/2014

    " The most enjoyable novel I've read, well... in a very long time "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hilary West | 1/2/2014

    " So far, so good. Not enamoured with the pick-up from Venice nor the bodily functions in Varanasi, but liked some of it. He captured the local color in Varanasi! All in all not a bad read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim Walsh | 12/24/2013

    " Fun to read, and brilliantly evocative of both Venice and Varanasi, but not clear what ties the two stories together, and not obvious what the book is about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Milton | 12/16/2013

    " There are two stories in the book. The first I liked a lot and the second in India I did not like. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 12/13/2013

    " The segment on Varanasi was fascinating, beautifully written and lyrical. Still, I could have easily continued on reading the Venice segment for another book length or two instead. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chelsea Heath | 11/25/2013

    " I was very interested while reading the book, but I don't think I really 'got' what it was about. I found the second part a bit strange. Overall, an alright read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 11/17/2013

    " Weirdest. Ending. Ever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shawn | 11/9/2013

    " A book that read like a two-sided coin. Venice was ego and excess, Varanasi was spiritual enlightenment. At times incredibly funny, the character development was compelling and the two cities complex and lucidly detailed. In enjoyed the book immensely. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jo | 6/7/2013

    " I could not enjoy this, and stopped reading. It was recommended by a friend, then another friend said she enjoyed it, so maybe I will give it another go sometime, but right now, life seems too short to read about the ennui of a person who has a far too developed sense of entitlement. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 11/13/2012

    " The first half irritated me and amused me in equal measure. The second part I loved almost unqualifiedly. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Milagros | 10/11/2012

    " I didn't like this book - it was a waste of time and paper. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 9/17/2012

    " jeff finds his way to the beginnings of logic and goes marvelously crackers in the still source of samsara double-talk "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amrit | 2/15/2012

    " Odd book. Two novellas actually. I like the 2nd one better. Very Indian, and not as dark as the first part "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret123 | 11/30/2011

    " I have never read a more accurate rendering of Varanasi, a city that will swallow you whole, full equally with charlatans, thieves, tour guides and wise souls, just like Venice. I couldn't put this book down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 10/7/2011

    " Very well-written and interesting play between the two halves. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bruce | 9/2/2011

    " Sex and drugs at the Venice Bienale, then "going native" in Benares. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 6/24/2011

    " Good. Strange. Substantial. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 6/14/2011

    " Oh Dear! I think this comes under the heading of beautifully-written trivia, especially the second part on Varanasi - a lot of words but very little point to them. Can't recommend this, I'm afraid. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cristianne | 5/9/2011

    " didn't love it. I felt like Dyer was over-sensationalizing in both parts of the book - in the first, the fantasy of partying like a rockstar in Venice and in the second, the fantasy of going "native" in India. I felt his writing was, at times, rather offensive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellery | 4/25/2011

    " Captures the essence of Varanasi very well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chloe | 4/8/2011

    " This is a strange book, well written, sometimes over-written, that holds the attention but ultimately runs out of steam. I enjoyed the sensual, sometimes erotic first part and thought the second half somewhat self-indulgent. So, good, but not as good as the author thinks it is. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret123 | 3/22/2011

    " I have never read a more accurate rendering of Varanasi, a city that will swallow you whole, full equally with charlatans, thieves, tour guides and wise souls, just like Venice. I couldn't put this book down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eldra | 2/22/2011

    " Interesting although it sort of falls apart and you keep wondering "How does this all connect?" or maybe the point is that it doesn't and in our lives we're not always able to have clean clear resolutions. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bill | 2/19/2011

    " Got many a rave review, thought I would read it. BORING. Wasn't interested in the least, clichéd and tired. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda | 2/1/2011

    " Only read the first story, and it was just OK
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bruce | 1/17/2011

    " Sex and drugs at the Venice Bienale, then "going native" in Benares. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Olivia | 1/15/2011

    " Enjoyed the first half set in Venice, with descriptions of Venice and the art world, but felt that the book lost the plot somewhat in the second half, and it was a struggle at times to keep going. Although it did introduce me to the Hindu concept of 'darshan' or seeing. "

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About the Author
Author Geoff DyerGEOFF DYER is the author of four novels (including Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, a New York Times notable book); a critical study of John Berger; and five highly original nonfiction books including Zona (his most recent), But Beautiful (awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize), and Out of Sheer Rage (an NBCC finalist). His most recent collection of essays, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, received the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in London.
About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.