Spain

The Shadow of the Wind

“Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show." -The NY Times Book Review

”Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets—an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.”

”Anyone who enjoys novels that are scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling should rush right out to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Shadow of the Wind. Really, you should.” -The Washington Post

"Wonderous... masterful... The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero." -Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)

"One gorgeous read." - Stephen King

(A special thank you to book club member, Caity Greig for the suggestion.)

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Captain Alatriste

“The first action-packed historical adventure in the internationally acclaimed Captain Alatriste series of 6 books all translated into English, featuring a Spanish soldier who lives as a swordsman-for-hire in 17th century Madrid.

Needing gold to pay off his debts, Captain Alatriste and another hired blade are paid to ambush two travelers, stage a robbery, and give the travelers a fright. “No blood,” they are told.

Then a mysterious stranger enters to clarify the job: he increases the pay, and tells Alatriste that, instead, he must murder the two travelers. When the attack unfolds, Alatriste realizes that these aren’t ordinary travelers, and what happens next is only the first in a riveting series of twists and turns, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe...”

“Splendidly paced and filled with a breathtaking but not overwhelming sense of the history and spirit of the age, this is entertainment at its best: the characters have weight and depth, the dialogue illuminates the action as it furthers the story and the film-worthy plot is believable throughout.” - Publisher’s Weekly

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Cat's Whirld

Winner of the Ignotus Award for Best Novel (the Spanish equivalent of the Hugo Awards)

Cat's Whirld is an intriguing conundrum of a novel that hurtles along at breakneck speed. This is a character-driven sci-fi thriller at it’s finest.

The neutral Convergence Space Station No. 1, known as the Whirld, is the unofficial, but deadly battleground in which several Galactic powers fight to obtain a certain piece of information that could inevitably determine their whole future. But then an all-powerful malevolent AI, for reasons known only to itself, also enters the game…

Cat's Whirld, a book indispensable for understanding the evolution of Spanish science fiction, is an original fusion of thriller, cyberpunk, and space opera, with unforgettable characters, and a frenetic pace and rhythm that never falter; a hybrid novel in which elements from distinct genres make a surprisingly harmonious whole.

Originally published in 1995, it was the first cyberpunk novel in Spanish; a specially remarkable achievement in that it was also the first of Rodolfo Martínez' many novels, and yet was not afraid to tread new ground, and, moreover, to do so with great narrative confidence. Twenty-five years later, the story still retains its power, as fresh and exciting as ever.”

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Confessions

“Drawing comparisons with Shadow of the Wind, The Name of the Rose and The Reader, and an instant bestseller in more than 20 languages, Confessions is an astonishing story of one man's life, interwoven with a narrative that stretches across centuries to create an addictive and unforgettable literary symphony.

I confess.

At 60 and with a diagnosis of early Alzheimer's, Adrià Ardèvol re-examines his life before his memory is systematically deleted. He recalls a loveless childhood where the family antique business and his father s study become the centre of his world; where a treasured Storioni violin retains the shadows of a crime committed many years earlier. His mother, a cold, distant and pragmatic woman leaves him to his solitary games, full of unwanted questions. An accident ends the life of his enigmatic father, filling Adrià's world with guilt, secrets and deeply troubling mysteries that take him years to uncover and driving him deep into the past where atrocities are methodically exposed and examined. Gliding effortlessly between centuries, and at the same time providing a powerful narrative that is at once shocking, compelling, mysterious, tragic, humorous and gloriously readable, Confessions reaches a crescendo that is not only unexpected but provides one of the most startling denouements in contemporary literature. Confessions is a consummate masterpiece in any language, with an ending that will not just leave you thinking, but quite possibly change the way you think forever.”

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The Happy City

“‘I feel terrible. Although he doesn't say it, I know he had been hoping the whole time that I would explain it all somehow; but I can't explain it, because I don't understand anything.’ These disturbing words, almost a distillation of the entire text, close the novel The Happy City by Elvira Navarro, who featured in Granta’s The Best of Young Spanish-language Novelists issue in 2010.

The stories of Chi-Huei—a Chinese boy whose family has come to Spain in search of a better life—and his friend Sara—a girl strangely fascinated by a homeless man—comprise two separate yet complementary sections, presenting the reader with a detailed account of their life circumstances and the nuances of their perspectives: the genuine, as-yet untamed voices through which the book’s pre-adolescent protagonists negotiate the world around them, their initial astonishment finally turning to frustration as they gaze upon their dehumanized society.

A pre-teen’s first faltering steps towards sexuality, social pressures, the way polarized outlooks on life coexist at the core of the same family, those first experiences of disillusionment as we awaken into the adult world: these are some of the themes that Navarro lays out for her readers in order to reveal, with razor-sharp control, the constant duality that exists between the outward appearance of things and their inner reality.”

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A Heart So White

Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Award, and widely considered Javier Marías's masterpiece, A Heart So White is a breathtaking novel about family secrets that chronicles the relentless power of the past using stream of consciousness writing.

Juan knows little of the interior life of his father Ranz; but when Juan marries, he begins to consider the past anew, and begins to ponder what he doesn't really want to know. Secrecy--its possible convenience, its price, and even its civility--hovers throughout the novel. A Heart So White becomes a sort of anti-detective story of human nature. Intrigue; the sins of the father; the fraudulent and the genuine; marriage and strange repetitions of violence: Marías elegantly sends shafts of inquisitory light into shadows and onto the costs of ambivalence.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Kimberley Palsat for the suggestion.)

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