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Hispanista: Zafón, Pérez-Reverte and Marías: Three Spanish Guys You Should be Reading

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About a month ago I gave you a list of three fabulous Latina writers to add to your reading list; this Friday it’s the guy’s turn, and we are jumping the pond to get to them. I want to introduce you to three contemporary male Spanish authors that have captured international attention with their work. Their novels cover different time periods and themes, but all three writers have the distinct capability of engrossing the reader with superior storytelling.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zafón was born in Barcelona, Spain. He writes for both teens and adults. On his site he explains, “I have written for young readers, for the movies, for so-called adults; but mostly for people who like to read and to plunge into a good story. I do not write for myself, but for other people. Real people. For you.”

Zafón says that he is in the business of storytelling, and he does so brilliantly. According to his site, his novel The Shadow of the Wind is the second most successful novel in the history of Spanish publishing (Don Quixote is first, of course).

The Shadow of the Wind propelled Zafón into success, selling more than 12 million copies around the world, in more than 50 countries and in more than 40 languages, as reported on his site.

This novel is easily read in less than a week; it is just impossible to put down. It tells the story of a young man named Daniel, who is introduced by his father to the Cementery of Forgotten books. He picks up a random book by a writer called Julián Carax. Fascinated with the book he tries to find other titles by Carax, but discovers that there are none, and that a mysterious man is trying to burn any remaining book written by Carax. This is just the beginning of a journey of growth for Daniel, where his coming of age is tied to a literary mystery.

Add to your to-read list: The Shadow of the Wind or The Angel’s Game (Check out his Author Website and his Goodreads author page for other titles, quotes, reviews, etc.)

Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Before Arturo Pérez-Reverte became a bestselling novelist, this Spanish writer was a journalist, more specifically, a war correspondent. His novels are heavily historic, but not so much that readers unfamiliar with Spain’s history and culture would be confused or lost while reading.

On his site he explains why his novels have been so successful: “The reason for the success of these novels among students, young readers, readers of all ages, could be that despite their basis in historical adventure, they are a world apart from the topics of today’s novels for youth, recapturing the values of dignity, valor, and the harsh solitude imposed upon the hero confronting the hostile landscape of life.”

He goes on to say that in Madrid tours have been set up to recreate the places and events from his group of novels dubbed “Captain Alatriste novels.” Sound familiar? We could say he is Spain’s Dan Brown!

This series is set during the Spanish Golden Age and follows the adventures of a Captain Diego Alatriste, a Spanish soldier. Pérez-Reverte says the novels in the series were influenced by the writing of Albert Dumas in The Three Musketeers, which he read as a child. A movie based on the series, called Alatriste, was released in 2006, with Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings saga) playing Captain Alatriste.

However successful his Captain Alatriste novels are, Pérez-Reverte doesn’t stick to writing about the Spanish Golden Age. He writes about other time periods too, from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe to the current drug trafficking problems in North America.

Add to your to-read list: Captain Alatriste or The Club Dumas (Check out his Author Website and his Goodreads author page for other titles, quotes, reviews, etc.)

Javier Marías

Javier Marías

Javiér Marías comes from a rich intellectual background marked by the Spanish Civil War. His father was a philosopher during the Francisco Franco dictatorship, and left for the United States after he was banned from teaching. Marías published his first book at age 19, and also developed a career in translation. Apart from publishing masterful novels, he writes a weekly column in Spain’s best-known newspaper, El País, where he comments on Spanish society and current events.

In an interview for Boom magazine back in 2000 he said, “As you said, my books are, if not difficult, not exactly easy reading. But some of my novels aim to satisfy very demanding readers and less educated readers at the same time. I like the possibility of a book having different readings, and appealing to different kinds of readers. If that has happened with any of my books, it’s a real blessing. “

He gained international reputation as a bestselling skilled and insightful writer in the last ten years as he has periodically released the novels that make up a trilogy called Your Face Tomorrow. The complete trilogy can be divided into seven sections (Fever, Spear, Dance, Dream, Poison, Shadow, Farewell); it recounts the experiences of Spanish scholar Jaime Deza while he serves under a British intelligence service agency, M15.

Add to your to-read list: Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear or A Heart So White
Check out his Author Website and his Goodreads author page for other titles, quotes, reviews, etc.

Remember to leave a comment on this or any other Hispanista post to enter our giveaway of Daína Chaviano’s novel The Island of Eternal Love, and watch out for next week’s column featuring an interview with Daína Chaviano.

–Silvia Viñas

Read More: Three Latinas to Add to Your Reading List

Photos: Wikimedia Commons


Written by whitney teal

April 16, 2010 at 7:52 am

Posted in Hispanista

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  1. I loved Mañana en la batalla piensa en mi, it is, to this day, one of my favorite books. This summer I plan to read the first installment of the Tu rostro mañana series. I met a scholar form Brown who believes that the Tu rostro mañana series will be known as his master work in the near future. For now, Mañana en la batalla and Corazón tan blanco seem to hold that distinction.


    April 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

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