‘Summer Voices’ by John Banville

Story Title: ‘Summer Voices’ by John Banville.
Collection/Anthology?: The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story (Granta Books)
Date Read: 7th September 2011
Briefly: Telling her auntie that she’s going away for a swim, a young girl with bullied brother in tow, heads for the bay to check out the dead body of a drowned man.
Afterthoughts: This story fascinated me, not least because Banville so beautifully invokes a sense of the summer, and of the countryside. He colours it black though, bringing a darker element to his story using death and decay, and this takes the story in an altogether different direction, which left this reader at least genuinely uncomfortable and somewhat creeped out. What a delightful storyteller John Banville is.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This story was read as part of a review of The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story. If you want to find out more about this anthology then please feel free to visit my forethoughts post for this title. Better still, why not get yourself along to the publisher page for this anthology.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. I should try some more John Banville. I’ve only read the Sea which I did not get on with at all. A short story would clearly be a good place to start again with him and I think perhaps his prose style might agree with me better in short, intense dollops.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      I’ve a feeling you might be right. I can see how his overly honeyed prose could be a drag in his longer novels, but in short form, as you say, it seems to work better. I highly recommend this one as a trial.
      Thanks for stopping by