Friday, March 09, 2007

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

The short list for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was released, with Portuguese and Spanish languages represented by Angolan José Eduardo Agualusa and Spanish Javier Marías.


The Book of Chameleons, by José Eduardo Agualusa

In Angola, an observant gecko watches as the albino Felix Ventura supplies new biographies to his guilty or vulnerable clients. We (and the gecko) hear their stories as the spy, the photographer or the minister try to re-fashion troubled lives amid the turmoil of post-colonial Africa. Humorous and quizzical, with a light touch on weighty themes, the narrative darts about with lizard-like colour and velocity.
Your Face Tomorrow, 2: Dance and Dream, by Javier Marías

It stands alone as a self-sufficient work, but this novel is also the mid-point of a trilogy. In a brilliantly drawn London, Deza works for an obscure espionage outfit, a watcher unsure of his mission and his unfathomable boss. In the sinuous, gorgeous prose of a true virtuoso of European fiction, scenes of offbeat comedy gives way to memories of horror, and incidents from the Spanish Civil War summon up all the unquiet dead.
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