From the Academy

The Academy is a great store of knowledge and opinion about great books. From time to time we ask its members to write a short piece on books they have admired. Here are some of their responses, most recently about 2015 Folio Prize winner Akhil Sharma’s Family Life, and further back about the one book they would have liked to win the Prize if it had always existed.

John Banville on The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Carey (1944)

The Horse's MouthFor reasons hard to fathom, the novels of Joyce Carey are largely forgotten now. He was a wonderful writer, and The Horse’s Mouth is a masterpiece of its kind – although an argument might be made that it is in fact one of a kind. Carey’s protagonist, Gully Jimson, is a London painter loosely based on Stanley Spencer. At one level the book is a comic romp, but at another it is surely the best fictional account ever written of what it is to be a painter. It would have made a splendid prize winner.