Born in Wexford in 1945, John Banville is arguably Ireland's leading novelist. He has held positions as literary editor and writer for several Irish newspapers, including The Irish Times.
His first work, a short novel entitled Long Lankin, was published in 1970. Birchwood (1973), his marvellous second novel, is a subtle parody of the Irish 'Big House'. In it the reader encounters a cast of memorable characters in the decaying world of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. The writing is poetic, evocative and eccentric with a certain mischievousness.
Doctor Copernicus (1976), the first of Banville's four novels about the science of astronomy, is a historical re-imagining of the life of the great astronomer. Historically quite accurate, it is an astonishing portrayal of the creative life of a scientist. The Untouchable (1997) describes the life of art historian Victor Maskell, the son of an Ulster clergyman, after his exposure as a Soviet spy. It is loosely based on Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures and member of the 'Cambridge Five'.
Banville was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 1989 with The Book of Evidence. He finally won the prize in 2005 with The Sea, his fourteenth novel, widely hailed as one of his best works. Of The Infinities (2009), the Los Angeles Times's Tim Rutten wrote, 'his 15th novel and first work of literary fiction since The Sea which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize is a dazzling example of that mastery, as well as of the formal daring and slyly erudite humor that make his novels among the most rewarding available to readers today.'
John Banville also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym, Benjamin Black. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.