Such Small Hands


Andres Barba

First Sentence:     Her father died instantly, her mother in the hospital.

Back of the book:

Her father died instantly, her mother in the hospital. She has learned to say this flatly and without emotion, the way she says her name (Marina), her doll’s name (also Marina) and her age (seven). Her parents were killed in a car crash and now she lives in the orphanage with the other little girls. But Marina is not like the other little girls. In the curious, hyperreal, feverishly serious world of childhood, Marina and the girls play games of desire and warfare. The daily rituals of playtime, lunchtime and bedtime are charged with a horror; horror is licked by the dark flames of love. When Marina introduces the girls to Marina the Doll, she sets in motion a chain of events from which there can be no release. With shades of Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro and Mariana Enriquez, Such Small Hands is a beautifully controlled tour-de-force, a bedtime story to keep readers awake.

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The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse

9781782271017Iván Repila

First Sentence:     ‘It looks impossible to get out,’ he says.

Back of the book:

‘It looks impossible to get out,’ he says. And also: ‘But we’ll get out.’

Two brothers, Big and Small, are trapped at the bottom of a well. They have no food and little chance of rescue. Only the tempting spectre of insanity offers a way out. As Small’s wits fail, Big formulates a desperate plan.

With the authority of the darkest fables, and the horrifying inevitability of all-too-real life, Repila’s unique allegory explores the depths of human desperation and, ultimately, our almost unending capacity for hope.

Quote from the book:

Big remains silent, though his breathing has quickened and his heart is pumping acid. He locks his jaw hard, grinding his teeth and making the nerves in the gums between his teeth ring. It’s a pleasant kind of pain, which suppresses the scream building up inside him. A scream like a lump of food in the stomach after a heavy meal.

And willing the wind to carry consonants and vowels across the night, and for his words to penetrate further than any scream could reach, he whispers:

‘I’m going to kill you.’

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Enrique Vila-Matas

First Sentence:     He belongs to an increasingly rare breed of sophisticated, literary publishers.

Back of the book:

Samuel Riba is about to turn 60. A successful publisher in Barcelona, he has edited many of his generation’s most important authors. But he is increasingly prone to attacks of anxiety – inspired partly by giving up alcohol, and partly by his worries about the future of the book. Looking for distraction, he concocts a spur-of-the-moment trip to Dublin, a city he has never visited but once had a vivid dream about.

Riba sets off for Dublin on the pretext that he wishes to honour James Joyce’s Ulysses, and to hold, on Bloomsday, a funeral for the age of print. But as he and his friends give their orations, a mysterious figure in a mackintosh hovers in the cemetery, looking rather like Joyce’s protégé Samuel Beckett. Is it Beckett, or is it the writer of genius that Riba has spent his whole career trying, and failing, to find? As he ponders this, and other profound questions, he marks a death but makes some illuminating discoveries about life.

Quotes from the book:

[…] this morning he seems condemned to go from Gutenberg to Google and from Google to Gutenberg, moving back and forth between two options, between the world of books and that of the web […]

‘It will be much better if, at the end of everything, sorrow disappears and silence returns.’

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