Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesdays Tomes: The Shadow of the Wind

For a book originally written in another language, I chose The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which was originally written in Spanish. As an English major and professor, I've read a lot of translations--mostly the classics like Marquez, Kafka, and Tolstoy. For the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, I didn't want to just reread something I'll be teaching in the fall. I wanted something new to me, so I spent too much time browsing Amazon and came across Zafon's novel. I'd never heard of the book or the author, but it sounded interesting.

The Shadow of the Wind tells the story of a young boy named Daniel who lives in Barcelona in the 1950s. His mother died when he was very young; one day, he wakes up in a panic because he can no longer remember his mother's face. His father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he is allowed to pick one book and he will be responsible for making sure that book lives on as long as he is alive.

He chooses a book by an author named Carax and later discovers that earlier someone had gone through Barcelona burning every copy of Carax's novels they could find, so he may have the last known copy of his works. Daniel goes on an adventure to learn all he can about Carax. The adventure includes romance, mystery, friendship, murder.

I loved this book! This is the second book I've chosen for the challenge that relates to mysterious books. There's just something about books with characters who love books that draws me in. The characters were unique; the historical context was interesting--I studied a little bit of Spanish history in college, but this book made me what to learn more about the time period. Lately, I've been reading different novels that are showing a different side of the 1950s than the one presented in Leave it to Beaver and this book definitely falls into that category.

My only complaint is that it was ridiculously long--almost 500 pages. I usually don't even pick up books that are over 300 pages (it's the poet in me, I guess--I'm just drawn to shorter works). If I had looked at the page length when browsing Amazon, I probably would have kept looking. But I'm glad I didn't see that.

Usually when I read longer books, I find myself thinking about what could be edited out, but I thought this book was great. All of the many characters were necessary to the story, the different elements of the plot moved the story along, and most of the descriptions were poetic and built the mysterious tone that kept me reading.

I'm officially halfway through the reading challenge and have all of the ones I'm most looking forward to to get me through the rest of the year! 

What are you reading this month? What are your favorite books in translation? 

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