Le Carre is our greatest living author because he gets humans

Natasha Cooper in The Telegraph:

Cumming,-Le-Carre-large_trans++iwqBqhyUMy2ijIogC-Oc2OSEE34CvIFYgaVsQTrDMTkHave we ever loved John le Carré as much as we do now? After the huge success of The Night Manager, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold will now be adapted as a television series. This a fortnight after it was confirmed that Gary Oldman will reprise his role as George Smiley in the film sequel to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, it seems, we cannot get enough of its most famous chronicler.Finally, we in Britain may have realised what that great American writer Philip Roth understood in 1986, when he described A Perfect Spy as “the best English novel since the war”. Is John le Carré, author of enormously popular novels since 1961, when he published Call for the Dead, our greatest living writer?

His standing has been high for years. But he has never been taken as seriously as many “literary writers” with a fraction of his talent. This is partly because his genre is thrillers, but perhaps also because there is a crusading anger about some of his later work that can make it read more as polemic than fiction.There’s no doubt, though, that in his best work he can do everything from high drama to the quietest of domestic misery. He can evoke place in only a few words, and he can be funny. For a writer whose principal subject is betrayal – personal, political, and commercial – this ability to make readers laugh is unexpected. In The Honourable Schoolboy, the third novel in his great Cold War trilogy, The Quest for Karla, le Carré has the undisciplined journalist and spy Jerry Westerby blagging his way into a south-east Asian war zone in a scene of the highest comedy.

More here.

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