Such Small Hands is the third of Andrés Barba's books to be translated into English and may well be the best one yet. Slim, yet remarkably taut, the Spanish author’s novella murmurs with increasing dread and unease. Following a car accident which claims the lives of her parents, seven-year-old Marina is sent to an orphanage where her once-privileged life contrasts sharply with those of her fellow orphans. Marina invents a nocturnal game which both intrigues and incites — one begun innocently (if not a little strangely) but which builds quickly to an ominous conclusion. Such Small Hands is focused, precise, and more than a little eerie! Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Shirley Jackson meets The Virgin Suicides, set at an all-girls orphanage.
Life changes at the orphanage the day seven-year-old Marina shows up. She is different from the other girls: at once an outcast and object of fascination. As Marina struggles to find her place, she invents a game whose rules are dictated by a haunting violence. Written in hypnotic, lyrical prose, alternating between Marina’s perspective and the choral we of the other girls, Such Small Hands evokes the pain of loss and the hunger for acceptance.
"Every once in a while a novel does not record reality but creates a whole new reality, one that casts a light on our darkest feelings. Kafka did that. Bruno Schulz did that. Now the Spanish writer Andrés Barba has done it with the terrifying Such Small Hands.”—Edmund White
"A darkly evocative work about young girls, grief, and the unsettling, aching need to belong." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Andrés Barba needs no advice. He has already created a world that is perfectly realized and has a craft that is inappropriate for a writer of his age." Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
"Barba explores what the dynamics of an orphanage reveal about any insular community and the trials of its inevitable outcast." Idra Novey, author of Ways to Disappear
"Such Small Hands is a stick of dynamite. Nothing like having your world rearranged in two sittings." Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore
"In stunning prose, Andrés Barba probes the fissures that words stitch together long enough to form a scar. Love, hate, trauma—they’re tightly coiled in Such Small Hands into that most universal of scars, childhood, and the results, also like childhood, are unsettling." Brad Johnson, Diesel, A Bookstore
"Orphaned when her parents are killed in a car accident, a delicate little girl named Marina is sent to an orphanage, where she finds a world as mysterious and forbidding as any alien planet. In time, though, she reshapes this microcosm into her own dominion. Barba’s prose is both halting and haunting; simple balanced sentences whose opacity hint at an underlying fear and wariness. The perspective moves fluidly from the other girls at the orphanage—“Everything around her was contaminated, and so were we”—to Marina—“Marina could see the pulse on their necks, their sleep smell”—and back again. A pariah at first, Marina begins to earn the respect of the other girls when she kills a caterpillar and its burial becomes a communal act. At a seemingly random moment, Marina understands that she is different, a staggering realization that gives her a strange sense of empowerment, and prompts her to impose her will on the other girls. This transition, in which she turns the girls into her dolls (“We were all lovers and the game was our love.”) is as unsettling as Marina’s initial introduction to her new home, when she was the prey and they the predators. Interpret Barba’s elliptical story as you will, but chances are you won’t soon forget it. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
Every once in a while a novel does not record reality but creates a whole new reality, one that casts a light on our darkest feelings. Kafka did that. Bruno Schulz did that. Now the Spanish writer Andres Barba has done it with the terrifying Such Small Hands. Edmund White
It was once a happy city; we were once happy girls. . . . Life changes at the orphanage the day Marina shows up. As she tries to find her place, she creates a game whose rules are dictated by a haunting violence. In hypnotic, lyrical prose, Andres Barba evokes the pain of loss and the hunger for acceptancea masterwork from the Spanish writer at the peak of his powers.
Andres Barba is the award-winning Spanish author of August, October and Rain Over Madrid.
Lisa Dillman s translation of Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera, won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award.
Sales Handle: Shirley Jackson meets The Virgin Suicides, in a haunting novel set at an all-girls orphanage.
"In my opinion, Barba has become an essential writer." Rafael Chirbes, author of On the Edge
About the Author
Andrés Barba is the one the most lauded contemporary Spanish writers. He is the author of twelve books, including August, October and Rain Over Madrid. In addition to literary fiction, he has written essays, poems, books of photography, and translations of De Quincey and Melville. His books have been translated into ten languages.
Lisa Dillman translates from Spanish and Catalan and teaches in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University. Some of her recent translations include Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera, which won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award; Rain Over Madrid, by Andrés Barba; Monastery, co-translated with Daniel Hahn, by Eduardo Halfon; and Salting the Wound, by Víctor del Árbol.