Synopses & Reviews
"[A] translucent novel of passion, illusion and social class....slyly witty and luminous."
—Francine Prose in O, The Oprah Magazine
During working hours, Mario is a dutiful bureaucrat, scrupulously earning his paycheck as an employee of the provincial Spanish town where he lives. But when he walks through the door of his apartment, he is transformed into the impassioned lover of Blanca, the beautiful, inscrutable wife he saved from the brink of personal crisis. For the love of Blanca, Mario eats sushi and carpaccio, nods in feigned understanding at experimental films, sits patiently through long conversations with her avant-garde friends, and conceals his disgust at shocking art exhibits.
Then, little by little, a strange and ominous threat begins to weigh on the marriage.
How can love survive its own disappearance? The desperate answer that Antonio Muñoz Molina proposes in this short, circular novella is a model of literary strategy and style, a splendid homage to Flaubert.
"Propelled by an ironic sense of foreboding, this clever, circular account of the unraveling of a strained marriage follows Mario, a Spanish civil servant who thrives on routine, after he becomes convinced his wife, Blanca, has deserted him and left in her place an impostor. Mario blames himself for not paying closer attention to his beloved in happier times, but his more pointed regret centers around Llus Onsimo, a 'villainous multimedia artist' whose arrival in their small city of Jan, Mario believes, doomed his marriage. Blanca, a longtime art lover, became fixated on Llus and his art, the latest in a long line of Blanca's artists du jour. Indeed, Blanca's many small disappointments a missed Frida Kahlo exhibition in Madrid, Mario's crude table manners, her boredom with mundane surroundings that she claims only 'mental bureaucrats' could tolerate have their roots in their divergent backgrounds he grew up poor and has no use for the art scene; she comes from a background of privilege. In spare, well-crafted prose and through subtle suggestions, Molina delivers a taut investigation of romantic attachment that draws readers into an eerie spiral of suspicion where the line between questionable perceptions and reality is never quite clear. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Antonio Muñoz Molina
Antonio Muñoz Molina was born in Spain in 1956. His thirteen books, including Sepharad and Winter in Lisbon have won two Premio Nacional de Literatura prizes and marked him as one of Spains most important living writers. He resides in New York City, where he is the director of the Cervantes Institute.
Esther Allen, codirector of PEN World Voices, has translated the work of José Martí, Alma Guillermoprieto, Juan Bonilla, and Jorge Luis Borges. A former NEA Fellow and Fulbright grant recipient, she lives in New York City.