‘I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.' Julian Barnes' new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard. Though he warns us that ‘this is not my autobiography', the result is a tour of the mind of one of our most brilliant writers. When Angela Carter reviewed Barnes' first novel, Metroland, she praised the mature way he wrote about death. Now, nearly thirty years later, he returns to the subject in a wise , funny and constantly surprising book, which defies category and classification – except as Barnesian.