Book Review: Night Boat to Tangier

I finished reading the Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry last night. I was up and down regarding my enjoyment of the book. In part it was the my busy time at work on not finding chunks of time to read and the other is the format of the book. Barry writes in an unusual style and the story jumps between the present and past. The main characters are two former Irish drug traffickers in the 50s. In the present, they are at a ferry terminal in Spain, waiting for the arrival of the estranged daughter of Maurice who is the real center of the novel. The story goes back through the men’s past. They earned a living through trafficking heroin and marijuana between Morocco, Spain and Ireland. I liked the past scenes best and it gave me insight into this type of lifestyle. I would not want to be a drug trafficker! It is a pretty miserable and risky life that creates a lot of pain for many people. Not only are they selling drugs, but they are also using them quite a bit and it causes so many problems in their lives. Living a lifestyle like this, they have many regrets, but also they reminisce on the thrills of a life of crime where they never got caught. The book is sad in many parts, joyous in others and is a real rollercoaster of vignettes. I didn’t like the present parts, not much happens and too much time spent describing the station and the men drinking in the bar. However, the flashbacks are gripping and it caused me to read through to the end.

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