By David Lodge
Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670019922, 304pp.
Publication Date: September 18, 2008
A witty, tender novel about the travails of old middle age, from a Booker finalist
Desmond Bates is a recently retired linguistics professor vexed by his encroaching deafness and at loose ends in his personal life. Without the purposeful routine of the academic year, he finds his role reduced to that of escort and house-husband while his wife's late-flowering career as the owner of a home design store flourishes. The monotony of his days is relieved only by wearisome journeys to London to check on the welfare of his querulous, elderly father, an ex-dance musician. But these discontents are nothing compared to the affliction of hearing loss, which is a constant source of domestic friction and social embarrassment. It is through his deafness that Desmond inadvertently gets involved with a young woman who seeks his support in matters academic and not so academic; and whose wayward and unpredictable behavior threatens to destabilize his life completely. Deaf Sentence is a funny, moving account of one man's effort to come to terms with deafness and death, aging and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human life.