Le Carré to Bring Back George Smiley
Your wait for new installments of Smiley & Guillam is almost over.
For the first time in over 25 years, a new John Le Carré book will feature George Smiley, according to a report from the Associated Press. The famous fictional spy, best known for his appearances in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy will play a prominent role in Le Carré’s latest, A Legacy of Spies, which will be released by Viking in September. Another fan favorite, Peter Guillam, will narrate the novel.
Considered by some to be the anti-Bond, Smiley relies on subtlety and careful observation, rather than more common thriller techniques, like acrobatics and beachside seduction. However, like 007, he has several on screen avatars. Most notably, Sir Alec Guinness starred as Smiley in the 1979 BBC adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Gary Oldman picked up an Oscar nomination for his rendition of Smiley in the 2011 film adaptation.
Set in the present day, the A Legacy of Spies finds Le Carré’s heroes forced to defend their past spying against “a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.” According to a statement from Viking, the novel includes several callbacks to Le Carré’s earlier work: operations featuring Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley, and Peter Guillam “that were once the toast of secret London…will be scrutinized under disturbing criteria.”
Given the contemporary setting, Le Carré fans are already raising questions about Smiley’s role. After all, the veteran Cold Warrior, who last appeared in The Secret Pilgrim (1991), would now be at least 100 years old. Some have theorized he only appears in flashbacks. Perhaps the end of his life will be detailed. Maybe, however, he still lives and Le Carré will surprise his readers with a gritty Gran Torino-esque portrait of a very old man talking slowly.