The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy (Picador 2022)

Neil's picture

Over 15 years since the publication of The Road, McCarthy is back with a pair of linked novels, probably his last. Stella Maris is the companion to this novel, and was published about 3 months after this. The Passenger is set in the 1980s in various parts of the American South, largely in New Orleans, and features Bobby Western, a former physicist, now salvage diver. His sister, a genius mathematician, has taken her own life after some years in an asylum. They had a possibly incestuous relationship, which casts a shadow over the narrative. Bobby appears to be pursued by shadowy characters, and is haunted by the ghosts from his past. This is an extraordinary novel, quite different from McCarthy's other work. Much of it consists of conversations, some very funny, about quantum physics, the Kennedy assassination, madness, love etc. I found it extremely moving, and unsettling and mysterious; it's certainly compelling.