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The Infatuations

The Infatuations

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Add This - The Infatuations

Written by Javier MariasAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Javier Marias
Translated by Margaret Jull CostaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Margaret Jull Costa

  • Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
  •  
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • On Sale: August 13, 2013
  • Price: $26.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-307-96072-6 (0-307-96072-2)
about this book

From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Marías comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand—or do we?—through one woman’s ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations.

At the Madrid café where she stops for breakfast each day before work, María Dolz finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Though she can hardly explain it, observing what she imagines to be their “unblemished” life lifts her out of the doldrums of her own existence. But what begins as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement when the man is fatally stabbed in the street. María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, and at the couple’s home she meets—and falls in love with—another man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly reimagined as metaphysical enquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, guilt and obsession, chance and coincidence, how we are haunted by our losses, and above all, the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.

“As in years past, my favourite novel of those I read this year is one by Javier Marías, The Infatuations. . . . A fiendishly complex little plot triggers wave after wave of achingly beautiful prose whose mood of ecstatic disquiet becomes addicting.” —John Ashbery, Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year

“Widely regarded as one of Europe’s top authors and, it can be argued, the best novelist writing in Spanish today, Javier Marías has, in his latest work, written an arresting story of love and crime. . . . [At times] the novel itself begins to morph into something else that invokes the meditative pauses of essays, as finely nuanced as anything by Montaigne. But then, unexpectedly, an incident will trigger as much excitement as can be had in the tensest of thrillers. Indeed, María finds herself more than once in the middle of splendidly crafted episodes of Hitchcockian suspense. . . . Like Cervantes’s proto-novel, Marías’ s text bravely unfolds in the boundaries between fiction and reality, where truth and fantasy merge or collide.” —Roberto Ignacio Díaz, San Francisco Chronicle

“Great art often emerges from breaking, or at least tweaking, rules. A work that transcends its conventions can produce special results. Here’s such a book. . . . The Infatuations takes you where very few novels do. . . . This book sets out to leave a lasting impression on how we look at some of life’s most difficult, complex, and terrifying aspects. [It] succeeds tremendously.” —Carlo Sobral, Paste magazine

“Marías has created a splendid tour de force of narrative voice. . . . What makes his novel succeed on such a grand scale is how María’s repartee holds all things at arm’s length. . . . We are caught not so much in a stream of consciousness as in a double helix of fiction, its DNA. Hypnotic in its strange but familiar movements, fostering infatuations of our own: infatuations with Marías’s rich, musical prose, infatuations with his narrative drive, pushing ever onward. . . . A luminous performance.” —Arlice Davenport, Wichita Eagle

The Infatuations is a treasure. . . . It is splendid.” —Laura K. Warrell, Numéro Cinq magazine

“Characters’ looping thoughts and reflections, expressed in Marías’s long sentences with their deferrals and digressions, equivocations and inquiries, constitute the real drama of this preternaturally gifted writer’s urgent fiction. . . . English-language readers are indebted to [the translator,] the great Margaret Jull Costa, for her sublime rendering of this worldview. . . . The Infatuations expands thematically and stylistically on the bold fictional project that began with the 1986 novella The Man of Feeling, but despite its continuity Marías continues to surprise and unsettle.” —Morten Høi Jensen, Music and Literature

“A haunting new novel by Javier Marías. . . . [a] witty, urbane, and acutely perceptive writer. . . . The Infatuations gradually unmasks itself as a philosophical crime-scene investigation, in which Marías’s scalpel-like prose and microscopic observations lay bare the fragmented, indeterminate nature not only of our most intimate relationships but of everything we think we know about why we behave as we do. . . . His literary gamesmanship evokes verbal puzzle-makers like Borges, and his ingenious chessboard plots bring to mind the 20th century’s grand-master strategist, Vladimir Nabokov. Yet his style is uniquely his own as are the discoveries he makes while rummaging around in the basement of the human heart.” —Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times

“The unspoken romance at the heart of Marías’s work is the recuperation of old-fashioned adventure within perfectly serious, cerebral contemporary fiction. . . . The book’s first sentence, though ripe with the questions and qualifications that fill out Marías’s books, has a hook worthy of an airport crime novel.” —Benjamin Lytal, The Daily Beast

“From this novel, it is easy to see why Marías is one of Spain’s most celebrated writers living today.” —Lawrence Olszewski, Library Journal

“Javier Marías is a master of first lines. He’s a master of other things as well. . . . All Marías books feel like chapters in one much longer book. And it’s one you should start reading, if you haven’t already.” —David Haglund, Slate

“Beyond the interesting ideas his work draws on, Marías’s novels are simply a pleasure to read. . . . The Infatuations, containing the qualities of Marías’s best work, is an important addition to his oeuvre.” —Greg Walklin, The Millions

“Marías’s novel operates on so many levels simultaneously, it becomes a piece of evidence itself, an artifact that proves its own argument. It is a dizzying feat that relegates ‘metafiction’ to that dreary province literary terms go should they fail to articulate, as The Infatuations does so artfully, that life and fiction are inventions often made from the same materials.” —Gregg LaGambina, The Onion/A. V. Club

“In elegant language, bursting with a tantalizing array of observations on the way we live our lives, Marías is a world-class performer juggling the dilemmas of mortality, the deceptions of chance, and the unbearable difficulty of believing anyone is telling the truth. . . . The reader has the delirious pleasure of circling mothlike around the flame of possibilities.” —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“Until The Infatuations, readers have lacked a convenient approach to an otherwise sprawling corpus. . . . Marías’s novel weaves an intricate web, but its triumph is in the power of its narrator. Marías has found the ideal voice–detached, inquisitive, and vigilant–for one of his finest novels.” —Michael LaPointe, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Marías is a star writer in Europe, where his best-sellers collect prizes the way Kardashians collect paparazzi. He’s been hailed in America, too, yet he’s never broken through like Haruki Murakami or Roberto Bolaño. This should change with his new novel, The Infatuations, which is the ideal introduction to his work. . . . The Infatuations is mysterious and seductive; it’s got deception, it’s got love affairs, it’s got murder–the book is the most sheerly addictive thing Marías has ever written.” —John Powers, Fresh Air/NPR

“Whatever else we may think is going on when we read, we are choosing to spend time in an author’s company. In Javier Marías’s case this is a good decision; his mind is insightful, witty, sometimes startling, sometimes hilarious, and always intelligent. . . . Macbeth reminds us that Shakespeare did not draw fastidious distinctions between murder mysteries and high literature, and there is no reason for Marías to do so either . . . The masterly Spanish novelist [has] a penetrating empathy. . . . For established fans, The Infatuations will be another welcome shipment of Marías; for new readers it is as good a place to start as any.” —Edward St. Aubyn, The New York Times Book Review

“The work of a master in his prime, this is a murder story that becomes an enthralling vehicle for all the big questions about life, love, fate, and death. It’s also a meditation on the nature of sexual obsession, conveyed in an exemplary translation.” —The Guardian

“A novel that further secures Marías’ s position as one of contemporary fiction’s most relevant voices. . . . With philosophical rigor, Marías uses the page-turning twists of crime fiction to interrogate the weighty concepts of grief, culpability, and mortality. . . . The novel’s power lies in its melding of readable momentum and existential depth.” —Publishers Weekly

“Blindingly intelligent, engagingly accessible—it seems there’s nothing Marías can’t make fiction do. No wonder he’s perennially mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate. . . . Marías’ s rare gift is his ability to make intellectual jousting as suspenseful as the chase scenes in a commercial thriller. He’s tremendously stimulating to read; arresting turns of phrase enfold piercing insights.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Marías [is] a consummate stylist. . . . Postmodern tropes are never more alive than in Marías’ s respectful hands. The cadences of his exquisite sentences are preserved in translator Costa’s English, the clauses balanced like a loaded scale; detail accumulates yet also erodes and turns elusive. The more precise the descriptions of passion and reflection, the more fleeting these states appear: the object of our attention and its dark shadow vie for supremacy. It is magic, stupendous, and not done for effect.” —Michael Autrey, Booklist (starred)

“Hypnotic. . . . The Infatuations plays off Marías’s enchantingly sinuous sentences. They suck you in and lull you along with their rhythm, which gives the unusual and palpable awareness of how masterfully Marías has made time itself his peculiar object of investigation. . . . The prose of The Infatuations is as casual as spoken language yet paradoxically feels honed to within an inch of its life. I don’t know how Marías manages that—or I should say, how his translator Jull Costa has achieved this in book after book, though never so marvelously as in this one. . . . Powerful.” —Eric Banks, Bookforum

“A haunting masterpiece. . . . The lasting challenge to literature is to achieve a satisfying marriage between high art and the low drives of a simple plot. The latter is usually much more demanding than the former. To find such a rapprochement in the pages of a novel is indeed a rare treat. This is where Javier Marías, one of Spain’s greatest contemporary writers, steps into the picture. . . . The Infatuations is just such a novel, a murder story of archetypal simplicity whose slow unravelling becomes a vehicle for all the big questions about life, love, and death. There are passages on almost every page that cry out for quotation. This may be a literary and metaphysical fiction, but it’s never boring. Marías plays with perception, memory, and guilt like a toreador. With every flourish of his literary cape, the enthralled reader is never allowed to forget that, in the end, the author will make a killing. Just as Macbeth is a thriller that’s also a great tragedy, The Infatuations is a murder story that’s also a profound story of fatal obsession. . . . Great Spanish novels don’t come along too often, but they sometimes find a place in the hearts of the British reading public. The full text of Don Quixote was first published as long ago as 1620. I wouldn’t be surprised of The Infatuations soon acquired an equally devoted following.” —Robert McCrum, The Observer

“A masterly novel . . . The classical themes of love, death, and fate are explored with elegant intelligence by Marías in what is perhaps his best novel so far . . . Extraordinary . . . Marías has defined the ethos of our time.” —Alberto Manguel, The Guardian

“Blindingly intelligent, engagingly accessible—it seems there’ s nothing Marías can’t make fiction do. No wonder he’s perennially mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate. . . . Marías’s rare gift is his ability to make intellectual jousting as suspenseful as the chase scenes in a commercial thriller. He’s tremendously stimulating to read; arresting turns of phrase enfold piercing insights.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“A haunting masterpiece. . . . The lasting challenge to literature is to achieve a satisfying marriage between high art and the low drives of a simple plot. The Infatuations is just such a novel . . . Marías plays with perception, memory, and guilt like a toreador. With every flourish of his literary cape, the enthralled reader is never allowed to forget that, in the end, the author will make a killing. Just as Macbeth is a thriller that’s also a great tragedy, The Infatuations is a murder story that’s also a profound story of fatal obsession . . . Great Spanish novels don’t come along too often. Don Quixote was first published as long ago as 1620. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Infatuations soon acquired an equally devoted following.” —The Observer

“Extraordinary. . . . [A] masterly novel. . . . The classical themes of love, death, and fate are explored with elegant intelligence by Marías in what is perhaps his best novel so far. . . . Marías has defined the ethos of our time.” —Alberto Manguel, The Guardian

“Marías [is] a consummate stylist. . . . The cadences of his exquisite sentences are preserved in translator Costa’s English, the clauses balanced like a loaded scale. . . . It is magic, stupendous, and not done for effect.” —Booklist (starred)

“Absorbing and unnerving. . . . For all the currents that ripple across its surface, The Infatuations is powered ultimately by the pressure of good old-fashioned suspense. . . . A labyrinthine exploration, at once thrilling and melancholy, of the meanings of one man’s death—and a vivid testimony to the power of stories, for good or ill, to weave the world into our thoughts and our thoughts into the world.” —The Sunday Times (London)

“Hypnotic . . . The Infatuations plays off Marías’s enchantingly sinuous sentences. They suck you in and lull you along with their rhythm, which gives the unusual and palpable awareness of how masterfully Marías has made time itself his peculiar object of investigation. . . . The prose of The Infatuations is as casual as spoken language yet paradoxically feels honed to within an inch of its life. I don’t know how Marías manages that—or I should say, how his translator Jull Costa has achieved this in book after book, though never so marvelously as in this one. . . . Powerful.” —Bookforum

“A masterpiece. . . . Composed with astonishing precision. . . . One reads it all without being able to put it down: a passionate investigation, with a high dose of intrigue, into the hidden corners of the human soul. . . . Here, great literature once again shows its true face.” —ABC Cultural (Spain)

“Keeps us guessing until almost the last page. Yet what lingers in the reader’s mind is not the murder mystery, compelling though it is. Rather, it is the author’s examination of the ebb and flow of flawed relationships; the chances that bring us together and the fates (in this case, murderous intent) that pull us apart.” —Financial Times

“I ended up getting angry with myself for not having rationed the reading so it would last longer. Perhaps no novel has ever changed anyone’s life. But, fortunately, some are still being written that make us forgive—even if only for a few hours—that lamentable limitation.” —El País

“Uniquely luminous. . . . A reading experience that is sometimes urbanely sensual and sometimes abstractly philosophical; or, maybe more precisely, sensual and philosophical, simultaneously. . . . Like Beethoven, Marías is a brilliant escape artist. . . . But Marías is original; he cannot help it.” —Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Plotted with tremendous skill and elegance, this cerebral tale is entirely absorbing.” —Daily Mail

The Infatuations is a metaphysical exploration masquerading as a murder mystery. . . . Quietly addictive.” —Spectator

“This cerebral, coolly compelling crime novel appears in the first instance to have one of those observant but passive narrators recognisable from works such as The Great Gatsby, Brideshead Revisited, and The Secret History. . . . As it turns out, María, our guiding voice here, gets a little closer to the flame than the reader is initially given to expect—and responds in a rather more complex way . . . Smart, thoughtful, morally challenging, and consistently surprising in its tense twists, this is a sleek atmospheric work.” —Scotland on Sunday