Tangram, a novel
- Translation: James Womack
- EAN: 9788494136722
- 172 páginas
- 148 x 210 mm
About the author
Juan Carlos Márquez was born in Bilbao in 1967. He graduated in information science and then studied journalism, but has been a full-time writer and creative writing teacher for several years. He has published three books of short stories, Norteamérica profunda (2008), Oficios (Castalia, 2008) and Llenad la Tierra (2010). He has been nominated twice for the Setenil Prize for Short Fiction, as well as for the prestigious International Ribera del Duero Short Fiction Prize. He has won the José Nogales Prize (2010), the Rafael González Castell Prize (2005) and the Juan Rulfo Prize to the best debut writer (2003). His stories are anthologised in various collections. Tangram is his first novel. His second novel, Los últimos, was published in 2015.
Tangram is a thriller, a fractured portrait of our contemporary corruption that ranges from the Basque country to Reykjavík, from London to Calabria.
A set of interlinked stories that combines and recombines into a series of possible narratives, each one giving its own perspective on a world built on deceit and damage.
Winner of many Spanish literary prizes, Juan Carlos Márquez is recognised as one of the best contemporary prose stylists in Spain, El País has praised Márquez’s language as being ‘as incisive and precise as it is brilliant in its deployment of revelatory images’, and here Márquez uses his elegant and pefected language in the service of a plot in which the connections between people exist tangentially, and seemingly random events are shown to be part of a great web of human interactions.
A morbidly obese woman, a former actress, imprisons two university students in a basement in Getxo in the north of Spain. A psychopath decides on Reykjavík as the theatre for his crimes. A thief, recently released from prison, tries to recover the money that he hid years previously on the outskirts of London. A mafioso, recently arrived in a Calabrian village, manages to win the respect of his fellow citizens even as he extorts money from them. A detective struggles to deal with his police duties and a growing sexual obsession. Much as in novels such as Ghostwritten or films like Babel, these stories, apparently separate on the surface, are shown to have far-reaching connections; to be, in many ways, pieces of a puzzle, in this case the ancient Chinese puzzle that gives its name to the novel. More than any other contemporary Spanish writer, Márquez understands the global nature of individual actions.
Tangram was awarded the prestigious Euskadi Novel Prize in 2012. The judges of this, one of the most important Spanish literary prizes, highlighted Márquez’s ‘elegant, unvarnished’ style, his fine sense of irony and humour, and praised the novel as a ‘fractured mirror; a set of stories, pieces of a puzzle that combine to form a whole.’ The novel also won the Sintagma Prize, awarded by booksellers: in the words of the awarding committee, ‘Juan Carlos Márquez’s prose is some of the most carefully worked writing that it is possible to find. His novel is a literary game right from its title onwards, as it gives us story after story and sets us the enjoyable and fascinating task of reading them and putting them together.’
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Juan Carlos Márquez is one of the safest possible bets in this current generation of Spanish short-story writers. Ángel Basanta, El Mundo
Without running the risk of falling into hyperbole , you could call this author an amazing discovery, with his magnificent prose and admirable imagination. Now, when it seems that the whole of the literary terrain has been conquered and colonised by styles which are récherché and finickity, by genres which are strange and flimsy, by any kind of desperate or delirious approach (as if the well of literature had run dry and everyone had to run around looking for alternatives like crazy diviners), then to come across an author like Juan Carlos Márquez is to be able to put all these ideas to one side, and regain the pleasant notion that literature is as infinite and as inexhaustable as human life itself, and that sometimes, out of the deluge of books that we are offered, an author can appear, unconnected to the major commercial channels, and remind us that in this ocean that we have sailed for almost a thousand years of literary history we have never so far passed out of sight of the shore. Ignacio Gómez-Cornejo Gilpérez, La tormenta en un vaso
From a formal perspective, Tangram is a bravura display of writing. A treat for anyone who cares about the language. Márquez has a style which is simultaneously expressive and precise. Precise because shock, humour, fear all exist in this work but do not take control of it: the important thing is the way the work fits together, not flashy effects. Márquez manages to make the reader uncertain whether to laugh, take offence, or even question his own feelings. Recaredo Veredas, Culturamas
We find ourselves lucky enough to be faced with a book that is extremely inventive and powerfully focussed. Carlos F. Romero, Con L mayúscula