After more than 10 years attending the British Council I feel only half English now at best and even that is waning. The other half I associate with things like football hooliganism, small mindedness, nationalism, old white blokes spouting shite in decaying working men's clubs, establishment rabble rousers and middle England (those have always been very English things, and I probably wouldn't have it any other way, apart from the hooliganism perhaps...). This novel by Le Carré makes me think he has an expected standard of mind and spirit and maybe others are losing it. That's when it's time to split. Le Carré doesn't give any evidence of preparing to pack his bags to quit the world. Like most of us who thought we knew the England we grew up with, maybe he feels alienated by the paucity and naivety and lack of integrity in those whose job it is to protect the rights and interests of all its citizens. I'm a huge fan of Le Carré, and - weird admission - if I have insomnia or I'm awake because I'm anxious about something, I re-read bits of "Tinker, Tailor” (I love the way George Smiley spends most of the novel reading reports and rummaging through archive boxes). I know it off by heart of course, but every time it still comes up fresh. His insights on Englishness and the state of the English nation are so accurate. Writers can be simple storytellers - spinners of mildly entertaining diversions. Some writers though go a little deeper, and reflect a mood or reveal tensions in our lives. Their words can help us see a little further, beyond ourselves, or prompt discussion of ideas. Le Carré’s work has done this; provoke thought and question England’s role in the post-war political world, examine the moral ambiguity that every nation wrestles with, and tell a bloody good story along the way. That’s both interesting and entertaining to many, and his views and opinions that fuel those books make compelling reading too. But if you’re not up for that, that’s fine. I always feel that reading a Le Carré novel is a bit like life - it's only around page 80 that you have any real understanding of what the hell is going on. I love how his stories enter through side doors and lead us though back stairs with glimpses of the main house. The man is a wonderful storyteller. Loved how the former head of the KGB wanted to meet him. Whether he knew well enough that Le Carré's work was elegant fiction, or believed it described to us the real workings of espionage, either way it's a testament to the author's skills that the two met.
Bottom-line: I’m so glad he has achieved publishing a new book, and it plainly shows one of the truly great writers of our time who has been diminished in people's eyes because of his writing spy novels (and bashing Brexit). Pity!