May 21, 2021
Viking to release posthumous John le Carré novel, Silverview
by Tom Clayton
Bittersweet news this week for fans of spy fiction, as Viking reveals it is publishing Silverview, a posthumous novel by John le Carré, who died in December 2020 aged 89.
Le Carré—born David Cornwell in 1931—is the author of classics including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974). Tributes poured in upon news of his passing, with historian Simon Sebag Montefiore describing him as a “titan of English literature“. Recently it was revealed he took Irish citizenship shortly before his death, having become “disillusioned with England and Brexit.”
Silverview, which will publish in October, is the last of three books le Carré was working on in his final years, with A Legacy of Spies and Agent Running in the Field having been released in 2017 and 2019 respectively. It was given his blessing and will be his 26th and final novel, published in the week he would have turned 90.
A report in The Guardian carried this synopsis which, excitingly, appears to feature bookselling:
Silverview is the story of Julian Lawndsley, who has left a high-flying job in the City to run a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But after only a few months, he is visited by a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, who seems overly interested in his new business. When a spy chief in London is warned of a dangerous leak, his investigations lead him to Julian’s seaside retreat.
Le Carré’s youngest son Nick Cornwell described Silverview as “fraught, forensic, lyrical, and fierce,” and long-standing agent Jonny Geller added it was “classic le Carré, elegant, beautifully done, loads of twists, and actually quite a fundamental comment on the intelligence services… Reading le Carré’s novel after his passing feels like a gift he has left us. Silverview is as urgent and alive as any of his past work.”
With news of a posthumous work always comes a tinge of sadness. Yet le Carré’s oeuvre—rich, complex and uncompromising—is destined to be enjoyed by generations to come. In the meantime, we await what will surely be one final thrill from the master.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.