When John le Carré died last year at 89, he had published 25 novels over the span of six decades, and he was still writing. He left one complete, full-length novel behind.
Viking, his publisher, said on Wednesday that the novel, “Silverview,” would be out in October.
“This is the authentic le Carré, telling one more story,” Nick Cornwell, le Carré’s youngest son and an author who writes under the pen name Nick Harkaway, said in a news release announcing the novel. “The book is fraught, forensic, lyrical and fierce, at long last searching the soul of the modern Secret Intelligence Service itself. It’s a superb and fitting final novel.”
“Silverview” follows Julian Lawndsley, who has given up a big city job for a quieter life running a bookshop in an English town by the sea. After a few months on this new path, he is visited by Edward, an émigré from Poland who possesses an unusual amount of knowledge about Julian’s family and an unusual amount of interest in his shop. A spy chief in London receives warning of a treacherous leak, and the investigation leads to this coastal town.
Le Carré was a grand master of spy novels, books so good they transcended the genre. Philip Roth declared his 1986 book “A Perfect Spy” “the best English novel since the war.” Le Carré did not allow his work to be entered for literary prizes — when he was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2011, he asked that his name be withdrawn — and he called state honors like a knighthood “absolutely fatuous.” But he was widely considered to be one of the greatest British novelists of his time.
He also had enormous commercial success. Many of his books were best sellers, including his most recent novel, “Agent Running in the Field.” Plenty were also adapted for movies or TV, including “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” (1965) and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (2011).
Born David John Moore Cornwell in Poole, England, le Carré spent his early career as a spy, working for MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, and MI5, its domestic security agency. MI6 would not allow him to publish his first novel, “Call for the Dead,” under his real name, so he went with John le Carré. He gave several explanations for the name over the years, until he admitted he couldn’t remember why he chose it. (One of the names his publisher suggested was “Chunk Smith.”)
In the news release, Brian Tart, le Carré’s publisher and editor at Viking Penguin, called “Silverview” a reminder of the author’s prodigious talent, adding, “His inimitable voice is on every page, and I am so pleased that readers everywhere will be able to hear it once again.”