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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thoughts on "El Prisionero del Cielo" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and "The Lover's Dictionary" by David Levithan (by Liviu Suciu)

Some weeks ago the third installment of the awesome series that started with The Shadow of the Wind and continued with The Angel's Game has been published in Spain. As FBC is an English language site, I usually refrain from talking about books that are not available in English, but in this case as the UK publication of "El Prisionero del Cielo" has been tentatively set on June 2nd, 2012 and presumably the US publication will soon follow, I will note several things about the novel with a full review to follow next year as I sometimes do with (English language) advance review copies of great interest.

"El Prisionero del Cielo" is shorter than the previous offerings in the series and is also thematically different, forgoing the dual - past/present - love affairs of the first two books. However the novel keeps the past/present threads but this time they are more political than anything else and they are clearly divided with Daniel and Fermin - narrator and sidekick of The Shadow of the Wind - as the respective narrators.

Since the title character is
David Martin (!) - the narrator of The Angel's Game - it should be clear that familiarity with both earlier installments is necessary and I found myself darting back and forth through The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game too.

Great prose, great characters and all that you expect from a CR Zafon novel, the one niggle I had is that "El Prisionero del Cielo" is the least self-contained of the novels so far both as backstory goes which I noted above and with an ending that while not quite a cliffhanger, definitely begs the fourth and presumably last "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" novel.

Still a clear Top 25 novel of 2011 for me and I am really looking forward to the English language version to see the subtleties I missed.


As it somewhat unexpectedly for me, "The Lover's Dictionary" made the Goodreads Choice final ten fiction category and was my second choice there, I decided to talk a little about it here. Written in short non-linear chunks arranged as alphabetical definitions, the book is extremely compelling. The prose is lyrical and the book just took over my reading unexpectedly when I opened it and could not put it down.

The story itself is less of importance than the way it is told; the atmosphere - two relatively young professional Manhattanites meeting on a dating site, moving together, etc, etc reproduces the joys and frustrations of living there as I experienced them years ago also, so that was an added bonus.

I think the book could have worked in a different location so from that point of view the location is not crucial, but on the other hand Manhattan gives a specific flavor to the novel that is harder to reproduce in other places.

Highly recommended for a fast, lyrical read that will stay with you; the first entry in the novel gives a flavor of how it goes and I really found myself turning the pages after this until the end; there is joy and sorrow, mundanity and exceptional, and generally life happening.

"aberrant, adj. “I don’t normally do this kind of thing,” you said. “Neither do I,” I assured you. Later it turned out we had both met people online before, and we had both slept with people on first dates before, and we had both found ourselves falling too fast before. But we comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say, which was: “I don’t normally feel this good about what I’m doing.” Measure the hope of that moment, that feeling. Everything else will be measured against it"


Sofia said...

Hello! :)
Greeting from Spain!

I just finished 'El prisionero del cielo' and it was a great book! The only problem? an open ending!
But it's amazing how all the characters from previous books conect in this one. It makes you wonder how coincidences cannot be simple coincidences. You'll like it :)

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