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The Infatuationsby Javier Marias
Synopses & Reviews
From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Marías comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand — or do we? — through one woman’s ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations.
At the Madrid café where she stops for breakfast each day before work, María Dolz finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Though she can hardly explain it, observing what she imagines to be their “unblemished” life lifts her out of the doldrums of her own existence. But what begins as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement when the man is fatally stabbed in the street. María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, and at the couple’s home she meets — and falls in love with — another man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly reimagined as metaphysical inquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, guilt and obsession, chance and coincidence, how we are haunted by our losses, and above all, the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.
"Marías (While the Women Are Sleeping) shows that death is hardest on those left living. Each morning María Dolz has breakfast at a cafe watching perfect couple Miguel and Luisa. One morning Miguel is stabbed to death on his birthday by a knife-wielding panhandler, a seemingly random act of madness. This rupture in María's idyllic voyeurism causes her to intersect her life with Luisa's, enmeshing herself in the murder's aftermath. Yet, as the story unfolds it becomes clear that nothing is certain but death. With philosophical rigor, Marías uses the page-turning twists of crime fiction to interrogate the weighty concepts of grief, culpability, and mortality. Indeed, scattered throughout are metafictional reflections on the limits and power of literature's hypotheticals, while María's job at a publishing company provides comic relief in its caricatures of the vanities of writers. The novel's power lies in its melding of readable momentum and existential depth. Through Costa's lucid translation, the prose exhibits Marías's trademark clarity and digressive uncertainty; a novel that further secures Marías's position as one of contemporary fiction's most relevant voices." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A haunting masterpiece....The lasting challenge to literature is to achieve a satisfying marriage between high art and the low drives of a simple plot. The Infatuations is just such a novel....Marías plays with perception, memory, and guilt like a toreador. With every flourish of his literary cape, the enthralled reader is never allowed to forget that, in the end, the author will make a killing. Just as Macbeth is a thriller that’s also a great tragedy, The Infatuations is a murder story that’s also a profound story of fatal obsession....Great Spanish novels don’t come along too often. Don Quixote was first published as long ago as 1620. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Infatuations soon acquired an equally devoted following.” The Observer
“Extraordinary....[A] masterly novel....The classical themes of love, death, and fate are explored with elegant intelligence by Marías in what is perhaps his best novel so far....Marías has defined the ethos of our time.” Alberto Manguel, The Guardian
“Absorbing and unnerving....For all the currents that ripple across its surface, The Infatuations is powered ultimately by the pressure of good old-fashioned suspense....A labyrinthine exploration, at once thrilling and melancholy, of the meanings of one man’s death—and a vivid testimony to the power of stories, for good or ill, to weave the world into our thoughts and our thoughts into the world.” The Sunday Times (London)
“Keeps us guessing until almost the last page. Yet what lingers in the reader’s mind is not the murder mystery, compelling though it is. Rather, it is the author’s examination of the ebb and flow of flawed relationships; the chances that bring us together and the fates (in this case, murderous intent) that pull us apart.” Financial Times
“Uniquely luminous....A reading experience that is sometimes urbanely sensual and sometimes abstractly philosophical; or, maybe more precisely, sensual and philosophical, simultaneously....Like Beethoven, Marías is a brilliant escape artist....But Marías is original; he cannot help it.” Times Literary Supplement
“Plotted with tremendous skill and elegance, this cerebral tale is entirely absorbing.” Daily Mail
“The Infatuations is a metaphysical exploration masquerading as a murder mystery....Quietly addictive.” Spectator
“This cerebral, coolly compelling crime novel appears in the first instance to have one of those observant but passive narrators recognisable from works such as The Great Gatsby, Brideshead Revisited, and The Secret History....As it turns out, María, our guiding voice here, gets a little closer to the flame than the reader is initially given to expect — and responds in a rather more complex way....Smart, thoughtful, morally challenging, and consistently surprising in its tense twists, this is a sleek atmospheric work.” Scotland on Sunday
About the Author
Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. The recipient of numerous prizes, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Femina Étranger, he has written thirteen novels, three story collections, and nineteen works of collected articles and essays. His books have been translated into forty-three languages, in fifty-two countries, and have sold more than seven million copies throughout the world.
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