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“Jeff in Venice, Death in Varnasi”

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi: A NovelGeoff Dyer’s “Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi” fuses timeless contemplations and contemporary circumstances with humor and insight. The title is a sly and not-so-subtle allusion to Thomas Mann; protagonist Jeff Atman speeds through the decadent, substance-filled haze of Venice, Italy, and scruffs through the dilapidated reality of Varanasi, India. He is a skinny, middle-aged writer with a penchant for freeloading; he may be looking for something more or only stumbling haphazardly toward love, purpose, and an evasion of age and boredom. calls Dyer’s novel “a vigorous mash-up of satire, romance, travelogue and existential treatise,” and the New York Times lauds the author’s “trademark wit and uniqueness.” The Independent describes the first half of the novel as “a love song to the pleasures of the phenomenal world, very fast and very funny,” but it is in Varanasi that the narrator settles and Dyer’s writing soars: “philosophical, astute, unstructured, oscillating between surface and depth, between the casual and the universal.”

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