Tell (Paperback)

Tell By Jonathan Buckley Cover Image

Tell (Paperback)


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Co-winner of the 2022 Novel Prize, Tell is an exuberant, intensely fluid, and probing examination of the ways in which we make stories of our own and of other people’s lives

A novel of intense, flickering intelligence, Tell is structured as a series of interviews with a woman who worked as a gardener for a wealthy businessman and art collector who has mysteriously disappeared, and may or may not have committed suicide. What might be a gloomy subject is instead alluring, lit from within by a lively deep knowledge of human nature: Buckley's eye for motivations brings to mind a Thomas Hardy for our atomized 21st-century. A thrilling novel of strange, intoxicating immediacy, Tell carries the pleasures of exciting new gossip enjoyed with a rare old cognac by a crackling fire. 

Calling his work “captivating,” John Banville has asked: “Why isn’t Jonathan Buckley better known?”

Jonathan Buckley is a writer and editor from the West Midlands, now living in Brighton. In 2015 he won the BBC National Short Story Award for "Briar Road," and he is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement. Tell is his twelfth novel.
Product Details ISBN: 9780811237918
ISBN-10: 0811237915
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 160
Language: English
Exactly why Buckley is not already revered and renowned as a novelist in the great European tradition remains a mystery that will perhaps only be addressed at that final godly hour when all the overlooked authors working in odd and antique modes will receive their just rewards.
— Ian Samson - TLS

Buckley’s fiction is subtle and fastidiously low-key . . . every apparently loose thread, when tugged, reveals itself to be woven into the themes [and] gets better the more you allow it to settle in your mind.
— Michael Faber - The Guardian

An exceptional talent.
— The Bookseller (UK)

Affecting, carefully drafted, quietly tumultuous.

Few writers manage to conjure such raw unease as Jonathan Buckley ... completely compelling.
— Adrian Turpin - Financial Times

A quietly brilliant writer, almost eccentric in his craftsmanship.
— The Sunday Times

Why isn’t Jonathan Buckley better known?
— John Banville

There’s plenty of interest in the life of Curtis, a British tycoon and art collector who’s gone missing. A novel about the nature of storytelling, and who gets to tell and shape the story.
— Kirkus Reviews

[Buckley] asks readers to think about how and why stories are told. This self-reflexivity results in a thought-provoking, artfully constructed narrative enriched by the mysteries that expand and proliferate throughout. It’s a deliciously fraught tour de force.
— Publishers Weekly (starred)

A finely honed and richly pleasurable illumination not only of the privileges and pitfalls of elites but also of universally human quirks and longings.
— Donna Seaman - Booklist

A slow-burn literary take on the missing-person whydunit, capturing how people chatter their way down alleys, rarely hewing to the main road of a tale.
— Tom Rachman - The New York Times

Suspicions, resentments, mutual desires, obscure liaisons, bad habits—they bristle among the familial characters, estate staff, and interlopers… In the end, this is a novel about narrativity, how to tell and why we tell—made riveting by Buckley’s canniness.
— Ron Slate - On the Seawall

Given that so many of Buckley’s novels are concerned with ideas of memory, selfhood and storytelling, this is hardly new territory for him. Yet the interview conceit in Tell makes it feel fresh, the withholding of interiority requiring an unusual engagement. Don’t take the conversational prose at face value; underneath it lies a whole other set of mysteries besides Curtis’s. Pay attention and you’ll find them.

— George Cochrane - Financial Times

Buckley has once again staged an absorbing debate: a philosophical refusal of narrative linearity that is replete with stories; a constellation of episodes that does not tell the whole tale.
— Richard Robinson - The Guardian