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Night Boat to Tangier – novel set in Algeciras and Cork (Waiting for Dilly)

14th October 2019

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry, novel set in Algeciras and Cork.

novel set in Algeciras and Cork

October 2018. Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, two fading Irish drug-running gangsters, are waiting at the port of Algeciras….

‘The Irishmen look out blithely at the faces that pass by in a blur of the seven distractions – love, grief, pain, sentimentality, avarice, lust, want-of death.

Moss and Charlie Red are looking for 23 year-old Dilly, a dreadlocked New Age exile plying the well-worn dope trail between Spain and Tangier for a few years gone.

From this jaded hell of a place, author Kevin Barry unpeels the layers of the boys’ reckless, feckless ride through life. From early beginnings in Cork, to nefarious ventures across Spain, into north Africa and back to Ireland, they ride roughshod over everything and everyone.

The love of Moss’s life is Cynthia, but their mutual excesses take a toll and despair seems inevitable.

‘But still there would come a night with Cynthia of reprieve, when they were themselves again, when they were back in their own flesh, when they could sit silently and alone with each other for three noble hours and stare into the flames.’

There are distinct parallels with Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ as Moss and Charlie reminisce and blather at the ferry terminal.

‘You remember that night in the house on Evergreen Street? We’d lost a tonne of prime Maroc?‘

‘Then we found it again. Outside Midleton.‘

‘We counted out so much money on that couch. We were grinning like cats.’

‘There was the night of the four Dutchmen in the boat.’


‘But the clock isn’t going backwards, Charlie.’

novel set in Algeciras and Cork Night Boat to Tangier is a darkly comic tale of lives lived badly, and with no obvious path to redemption. But it is the lyrical beauty of the author’s poetic prose, contrasting so starkly with the horrors that men do, which lingers in the memory after reading this haunting novel.

‘A train roared into view. Silent faces were lit on the evening train. How the foxes screamed at night. Dilly’s sobbing faded as the tap water circled the sinkhole. She twitched silently in his arms with contentment.’

For lovers of TripFiction the scenes in Cork, particularly the desolate site of a new housing development, and the places throughout Spain where Moss goes when the demons call, are particularly striking.

Andrew for the TripFiction Team 

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