George Smiley, John le Carré’s Signature Creation,To Return


John le Carré’s son, Nick Harkaway, photo © Nadav Kander.

Penguin Random House has revealed that a new novel starring George Smiley will be published globally in Fall 2024. The novel will be authored by John le Carré’s son, Nick Harkaway, an award-winning novelist and author of titles including Gnomon and Tigerman. The novel will be published by Viking, in the US, UK, and Canada and international language editions are currently being negotiated. 

Nick Harkaway said. “Smiley is woven into my life; Tinker Tailor was written in the two years after I was born and I grew up with the evolution of the Circus, so this is a deeply personal journey for me, and of course it’s a journey which has to feel right to the le Carré audience. It also seems as if we need the Smiley stories back now because they ask us the questions of the moment: what compassion do we owe to one another as human beings, and at what point does that compassion become more important than nation, law or duty?” 

Classic George Smiley books, John le Carré, photo © Anton Corbijn.

George Smiley is one of the most memorable literary creations of the twentieth century. An antidote to more fantastical, all-action depictions of spy craft, the novels in which he features are now defining documents of espionage literature, including classics such as THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, and SMILEY’S PEOPLE. From Smiley’s debut in 1961 to his previously most recent outing in 2017, the novels starring the renowned spy have sold over 30 million copies across all formats around the world. Margaret Atwood has said, “The Smiley novels are key to understanding the 20th century,” while New York Times has written, “Smiley is the finest secret agent in the world.” Over the decades, Smiley has been played in film and television adaptations by the great actors of the era – James Mason, Alec Guinness and most recently Gary Oldman, in some of the finest performances in their careers. 

Almost a decade passes between the devastating final scenes of THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD and the opening pages of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. The new novel will begin the exploration of the life and world of George Smiley and the Circus in these missing years. 

John le Carré is one of Britain’s greatest ever writers. He was born in 1931, and over six decades he formed a literary world that came to define our age. He published his debut novel, CALL FOR THE DEAD, in 1961 while still working in the secret service. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape that included the arms trade and the War on Terror. Le Carré’s memoir, THE PIGEON TUNNEL, was published to rapturous reviews in 2016 and has recently been adapted by Academy Award winning documentarian Errol Morris. The film premiered at Telluride and has gone on to receive global critical acclaim across film festivals and is currently streaming on AppleTV+. SILVERVIEW, which was left complete upon the author’s death, was published posthumously in 2021 to great acclaim and brought to publication by Harkaway. 

Harkaway is the author of books including GNOMON, THE GONE-AWAY WORLD, ANGELMAKER, TIGERMAN and TITANIUM NOIR; and, writing under the name of Aidan Truhen, of the Jack Price novels, beginning with THE PRICE YOU PAY. The Guardian writes of Harkaway that, “His great gift as a novelist is to merge the pace, wit and clarity of the best ‘popular’ literature with the ambition, complexity and irony of the so-called ‘literary’ novel” – a rare combination which le Carré himself also achieved. 

Jonny Geller said, “When I read the opening chapters of Nick’s story, I had this uncanny feeling David (John le Carré) had just delivered his new work to me. I heard David’s voice lift off the page. Not only has Nick caught his father’s idiom, but he has also inhabited the world of the Circus and Tinker Tailor to create a completely new story, set in the period just after the end of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. This will be the literary event of 2024.” 

Download Viking Press Logo - Viking Publishing Logo - Full Size PNG Image - PNGkitBrian Tart, President & Publisher of Viking Penguin in the US, said, “When the le Carré estate came to us with the idea of writing a novel set in the ten-year gap between two of his most iconic novels, I felt it was an extraordinary opportunity for us as publishers, but also a gift for those readers who have cherished the entire le Carré oeuvre.” 

The book will be published in hardcover, ebook and audio formats in Fall 2024. 


Posted: November 17, 2023