Oct 12, 2015

John le Carré to Publish Memoir in 2016

According to an announcement on his official website, spy novelist extraordinaire John le Carré will publish his memoirs in September of next year. The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life will be le Carré's first non-fiction book, though he has dabbled in that field with articles, opinion pieces, numerous forwards and introductions, and an enthralling afterward to Ben Macintyre's A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. Le Carré's life, of course, has comprised not only an astonishing writing career, but also an earlier career in espionage. Whatever he can reveal will no doubt make for fascinating reading!

According to the publisher's copy, The Pigeon Tunnel "opens up this extraordinary writing life for the first time. It is an exhilarating journey into the worlds of his ‘secret sharers’ – the men and women who inspired some of his most enthralling novels – and a testament to the author’s unique and personal engagement with the last half-century."

Beyond that, the author's literary agent Jonny Gellar of Curtis Brown promises "insights into the creative mind, tales of adventures in the movie trade, encounters with the great and the not-so-good, [and] intensely moving stories drawn from over 50 years of observing the world – told in prose other writers would envy," while Penguin Random House UK CEO Tom Weldon says, "The Pigeon Tunnel is the story of our times as seen through the eyes of one of this country’s greatest novelists."

The Pigeon Tunnel will be published in September 2016 in the UK in Viking Hardback and simultaneously in the USA and Canada by Penguin Random House. The audiobook will come out at the same time and be read by the author, which should be good. Le Carré is a gifted narrator, having demonstrated as much with abridged recordings of some of his novels and the unabridged audiobook of his most recent one, A Delicate Truth (which The Telegraph auspiciously selected earlier this year as the best audiobook of all time).

The timing of this announcement is somewhat curious, as it would seem to deliberately steal the thunder of Adam Sisman's John le Carré: The Biography, a nearly 700-page tome due out next month from Harper which had previously received the fiercely private author's official blessing. (Le Carré has famously sued to prevent other such publications in the past.) Le Carré has said before that the semi-autobiographical elements of A Perfect Spy were the closest he would ever come to penning a memoir (though The Naive and Sentimental Lover has also been described as a fictionalized accounts of events from the author's own life), so this decision is clearly a fairly recent one. I wonder if it was inspired by Sisman's manuscript – either because the author liked it and felt encouraged to go further, or didn't like it and felt the need to set the record straight himself?

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