Posts Tagged ‘When I Was Mortal’

Celebrating Javier Marías

November 7th, 2017

Javier Marías is widely regarded as Spain’s greatest living novelist. He was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and has garmered numerous accolades—including the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award—prolific praise, and multiple suggestions that a Nobel is in order. His fifteen novels, three story collections, and twenty works of collected articles and essays are darkly beautiful and often delve into the intricacies of relationships—both familial and romantic—that are shrouded in mystery and secrecy. In addition, Marías writes a weekly column for Spain’s premier Newspaper, El Pais, covering whatever captures his interest.

To join the millions of readers who admire Marías’s works, we recommend starting with his latest novel, Thus Bad Begins—newly out in paperback—or one of the earlier titles listed below. We can’t wait for you to discover the philosophical richness and sly allusiveness of his writing that make Marías a worldwide favorite!


Thus Bad Begins

“The book that defines Marías’s oeuvre as one of Spain’s most celebrated contemporary writers . . . Marías creates a symphony.” —The Boston Globe

In Madrid, 1980, five years after Franco’s death, Juan de Vere takes a job assisting Eduardo Muriel, a film director in the twilight of his career. Muriel is eccentric but charming, an irresistible idol for Juan. But certain people, and forces, loom, among them Beatriz, Muriel’s difficult wife; and Dr. Jorge Van Vechten, a mysterious figure implicated in unsavory rumors involving Muriel. As Juan digs deeper into all three of their lives, the deceptions and loyalties he begins to uncover will change the course of his young life. Thus Bad Begins is an ambitious, sweeping novel of a young man and his country, and of life in the wake of a dictator’s reign.

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InfatuationsThe Infatuations

“Sometimes startling, sometimes hilarious, and always intelligent. . . . Marías [has] a penetrating empathy.” —The New York Times Book Review

New York Times Book Review Notable Book, NPR Great Reads, and Onion A.V. Club Best Book of The Year

Each day before work María Dolz stops at the same café. There she finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Observing their seemingly perfect life helps her escape the listlessness of her own. But when the man is brutally murdered and María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, what began as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement. Invited into the widow’s home, she meets–and falls in love with–a man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly encased in a metaphysical enquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, chance and coincidence, and above all, with the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.

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MortalWhen I Was Mortal

“A refreshing discovery . . . [they] should be welcomed here like a bracing tonic.” —Chicago Tribune

A dozen stories by Javier Marías, “the most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature” (The Boston Globe).

Victims of mistaken identity, sponging relatives, amateur sleuths, eavesdroppers, professional liars, assassins, and failed bodyguards populate the short stories in When I Was Mortal. Plots turn on curious exigencies—a woman about to star in her first porn film; a night doctor who adds new meaning to “specialist”; a ghost whose neglect is greatly resented.

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HeartA Heart So White

“Brilliant. . . . An entertaining and intelligent novel.” —The Washington Post

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.

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.

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SoulsAll Souls

“Dazzling. . . . Javier Marías writes with elegance, with wit and with masterful suspense.” —The Times Literary Supplement

By one of the most important voices in contemporary world literature, a darkly comic novel about that most British of institutions, Oxford University.

In All Souls, a visiting Spanish lecturer, viewing Oxford through a prismatic detachment, is alternately amused, puzzled, delighted, and disgusted by its vagaries of human vanity. A bit lonely, not always able to see his charming but very married mistress, he casts about for activity; he barely has to teach. Yet so much goes into simply “being” at Oxford: friendship, opinion-mongering, one-upmanship, finicky exchanges of favors, gossip, adultery, book-collecting, back-patting, backstabbing. Marías demonstrates a sweet tooth for eccentricity in this sly campus novel and love story.

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Browse all of Javier Marías’s books here