"Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show."—The New York Times Book Review
A New York Times Bestseller
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secretsan epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
“ Anyone who enjoys novels that are scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling should rush right out to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Shadow of the Wind. Really, you should.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"Wonderous... masterful... The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero."—Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)
"One gorgeous read."—Stephen King
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Series:||Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series , #1|
|Product dimensions:||5.46(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.05(d)|
|Lexile:||990L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
CARLOS RUIZ ZAF"N is one of the world’s most read and best-loved writers. His work has been translated into more than forty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles. He is the author of The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel's Game, The Prince of Mist, The Midnight Palace, and, most recently, The Prisoner of Heaven.
LUCIA GRAVES is the author and translator of many works and has overseen Spanish-language editions of the poetry of her father, Robert Graves.
Read an Excerpt
A secret's worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept. My first thought on waking was to tell my best friend about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Tom's Aguilar was a classmate who devoted his free time and his talent to the invention of wonderfully ingenious contraptions of dubious practicality, like the aerostatic dart or the dynamo spinning top. I pictured us both, equipped with flashlights and compasses, uncovering the mysteries of those bibliographic catacombs. Who better than Tom's to share my secret? Then, remembering my promise, I decided that circumstances advised me to adopt what in detective novels is termed a different modus operandi. At noon I approached my father to quiz him about the book and about Julián Carax-both world famous, I assumed. My plan was to get my hands on his complete works and read them all by the end of the week. To my surprise, I discovered that my father, a natural-born librarian and a walking lexicon of publishers' catalogs and oddities, had never heard of The Shadow of the Wind or Julián Carax. Intrigued, he examined the printing history on the back of the title page for clues.
"It says here that this copy is part of an edition of twenty-five hundred printed in Barcelona by Cabestany Editores, in June 1936."
"Do you know the publishing house?"
"It closed down years ago. But, wait, this is not the original. The first edition came out in November 1935 but was printed in Paris....Published by Galiano & Neuval. Doesn't ring a bell."
"So is this a translation?"
"It doesn't say so. From what I can see, the text must be the original one."
"A book in Spanish, first published in France?"
"It's not that unusual, not in times like these," my father put in. "Perhaps Barceló can help us...."
Gustavo Barceló was an old colleague of my father's who now owned a cavernous establishment on Calle Fernando with a commanding position in the city's secondhand-book trade. Perpetually affixed to his mouth was an unlit pipe that impregnated his person with the aroma of a Persian market. He liked to describe himself as the last romantic, and he was not above claiming that a remote line in his ancestry led directly to Lord Byron himself. As if to prove this connection, Barceló fashioned his wardrobe in the style of a nineteenth-century dandy. His casual attire consisted of a cravat, white patent leather shoes, and a plain glass monocle that, according to malicious gossip, he did not remove even in the intimacy of the lavatory. Flights of fancy aside, the most significant relative in his lineage was his begetter, an industrialist who had become fabulously wealthy by questionable means at the end of the nineteenth century. According to my father, Gustavo Barceló was, technically speaking, loaded, and his palatial bookshop was more of a passion than a business. He loved books unreservedly, and-although he denied this categorically-if someone stepped into his bookshop and fell in love with a tome he could not afford, Barceló would lower its price, or even give it away, if he felt that the buyer was a serious reader and not an accidental browser. Barceló also boasted an elephantine memory allied to a pedantry that matched his demeanor and the sonority of his voice. If anyone knew about odd books, it was he. That afternoon, after closing the shop, my father suggested that we stroll along to the Els Quatre Gats, a café on Calle Montsió, where Barceló and his bibliophile knights of the round table gathered to discuss the finer points of decadent poets, dead languages, and neglected, moth-ridden masterpieces.
Els Quatre Gats was just a five-minute walk from our house and one of my favorite haunts. My parents had met there in 1932, and I attributed my one-way ticket into this world in part to the old café's charms. Stone dragons guarded a lamplit façade anchored in shadows. Inside, voices seemed shaded by the echoes of other times. Accountants, dreamers, and would-be geniuses shared tables with the specters of Pablo Picasso, Isaac Albéniz, Federico García Lorca, and Salvador Dalí. There any poor devil could pass for a historical figure for the price of a small coffee.
"Sempere, old man," proclaimed Barceló when he saw my father come in. "Hail the prodigal son. To what do we owe the honor?"
"You owe the honor to my son, Daniel, Don Gustavo. He's just made a discovery."
"Well, then, pray come and sit down with us, for we must celebrate this ephemeral event," he announced.
"Ephemeral?" I whispered to my father.
"Barceló can express himself only in frilly words," my father whispered back. "Don't say anything, or he'll get carried away."
The lesser members of the coterie made room for us in their circle, and Barceló, who enjoyed flaunting his generosity in public, insisted on treating us.
"How old is the lad?" inquired Barceló, inspecting me out of the corner of his eye.
"Almost eleven," I announced.
Barceló flashed a sly smile.
"In other words, ten. Don't add on any years, you rascal. Life will see to that without your help."
A few of his chums grumbled in assent. Barceló signaled to a waiter of such remarkable decrepitude that he looked as if he should be declared a national landmark.
"A cognac for my friend Sempere, from the good bottle, and a cinnamon milk shake for the young one-he's a growing boy. Ah, and bring us some bits of ham, but spare us the delicacies you brought us earlier, eh? If we fancy rubber, we'll call for Pirelli tires."
The waiter nodded and left, dragging his feet.
"I hate to bring up the subject," Barceló said, "but how can there be jobs? In this country nobody ever retires, not even after they're dead. Just look at El Cid. I tell you, we're a hopeless case."
He sucked on his cold pipe, eyes already scanning the book in my hands. Despite his pretentious façade and his verbosity, Barceló could smell good prey the way a wolf scents blood.
"Let me see," he said, feigning disinterest. "What have we here?"
I glanced at my father. He nodded approvingly. Without further ado, I handed Barceló the book. The bookseller greeted it with expert hands. His pianist's fingers quickly explored its texture, consistency, and condition. He located the page with the publication and printer's notices and studied it with Holmesian flair. The rest watched in silence, as if awaiting a miracle, or permission to breathe again.
"Carax. Interesting," he murmured in an inscrutable tone.
I held out my hand to recover the book. Barceló arched his eyebrows but gave it back with an icy smile.
"Where did you find it, young man?"
"It's a secret," I answered, knowing that my father would be smiling to himself. Barceló frowned and looked at my father. "Sempere, my dearest old friend, because it's you and because of the high esteem I hold you in, and in honor of the long and profound friendship that unites us like brothers, let's call it at forty duros, end of story."
"You'll have to discuss that with my son," my father pointed out. "The book is his."
Barceló granted me a wolfish smile. "What do you say, laddie? Forty duros isn't bad for a first sale....Sempere, this boy of yours will make a name for himself in the business."
The choir cheered his remark. Barceló gave me a triumphant look and pulled out his leather wallet. He ceremoniously counted out two hundred pesetas, which in those days was quite a fortune, and handed them to me. But I just shook my head. Barceló scowled.
"Dear boy, greed is most certainly an ugly, not to say mortal, sin. Be sensible. Call me crazy, but I'll raise that to sixty duros, and you can open a retirement fund. At your age you must start thinking of the future."
I shook my head again. Barceló shot a poisonous look at my father through his monocle.
"Don't look at me," said my father. "I'm only here as an escort."
Barceló sighed and peered at me closely.
"Let's see, junior. What is it you want?"
"What I want is to know who Julián Carax is and where I can find other books he's written."
Barceló chuckled and pocketed his wallet, reconsidering his adversary.
"Goodness, a scholar. Sempere, what do you feed the boy?"
The bookseller leaned toward me confidentially, and for a second I thought he betrayed a look of respect that had not been there a few moments earlier.
"We'll make a deal," he said. "Tomorrow, Sunday, in the afternoon, drop by the Ateneo library and ask for me. Bring your precious find with you so that I can examine it properly, and I'll tell you what I know about Julián Carax. Quid pro quo."
"Quid pro what?"
"Latin, young man. There's no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds. Paraphrasing, it means that you can't get something for nothing, but since I like you, I'm going to do you a favor."
The man's oratory could kill flies in midair, but I suspected that if I wanted to find out anything about Julián Carax, I'd be well advised to stay on good terms with him. I proffered my most saintly smile in delight at his Latin outpourings.
"Remember, tomorrow, in the Ateneo," pronounced the bookseller. "But bring the book, or there's no deal."
Our conversation slowly merged into the murmuring of the other members of the coffee set. The discussion turned to some documents found in the basement of El Escorial that hinted at the possibility that Don Miguel de Cervantes had in fact been the nom de plume of a large, hairy lady of letters from Toledo. Barceló seemed distracted, not tempted to claim a share in the debate. He remained quiet, observing me from his fake monocle with a masked smile. Or perhaps he was only looking at the book I held in my hands.
What People are Saying About This
Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books
Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award
Praise for Shadow of the Wind:
"Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show."
—The New York Times Book Review
“ Anyone who enjoys novels that are scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling should rush right out to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Shadow of the Wind. Really, you should.”
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"Wonderous... masterful... The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero."
—Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)
"One gorgeous read."
Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:
"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
“Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers…. Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections.”
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
—Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times
"Classic reads in stunning covers—your book club will be dying."
Reading Group Guide
The Shadow of the Wind is a coming-of-age tale of a young boy who, through the magic of a single book, finds a purpose greater than himself and a hero in a man he's never met. With the passion of García Márquez, the irony of Dickens, and the necromancy of Poe, Carlos Ruiz Zafón spins a web of intrigue so thick that it ensnares the reader from the very first line. The Shadow of the Wind is an ode to the art of reading, but it is also the perfect example of the all-encompassing power of a well-told story.
At the first light of dawn in postwar Barcelona, a bookseller leads his motherless son to a mysterious crypt called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This labyrinthine sanctuary houses the books that have lost their owners, books that are no longer remembered by anyone. It is here that ten-year-old Daniel Sempere pulls a single book—The Shadow of the Wind—off of the dusty shelves to adopt as his own. With one fateful turn of a page, he begins an adventure that will unravel another man's tragedy and solve a mystery that has already taken many lives and will shape his entire future.
When Daniel speaks with Gustavo Barceló, a local booktrader, to find out more about his new treasure, word begins to spread that he has uncovered a long-sought rarity, perhaps the only copy of any of Julián Carax's works in existence. Soon after, a mysterious stranger whom Daniel recognizes as Laín Coubert, the leather-masked, cigarette-smoking devil from Carax's novel, propositions Daniel, offering to buy the book from him for an astronomical price. Daniel refuses, in spite of the man's thinly veiled threats. With the help of his bookselling friends, Daniel discovers that Laín Coubert has cut a swath of destruction through two countries, methodically searching for and destroying all of Carax's books while erasing every trace of Carax's life.
ABOUT CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, thirty-nine, grew up in Barcelona and currently lives in Los Angeles. The Shadow of the Wind spent more than a year on the Spanish bestseller list, much of it at number one, and has sold in more than twenty countries.
A CONVERSATION WITH CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON
Q. This is your sixth novel, and it has been sold in twenty countries and translated into several languages. What do you think accounts for its worldwide appeal? Do you find that readers here in the States respond differently from Spanish readers?
I think it is all about the story, the characters, the pleasure of the language and of the imagination, the experience of the read. American readers respond to The Shadow of the Wind in the very same way as Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Australian, French, British, or German readers do. The pleasure of reading a great story and to experience the characters' adventures is universal.
Q. Daniel promises to show Bea a Barcelona that she's never seen. From the paintings of Joan Miro to the imaginative architecture of Antoni Gaudí, what is it about Barcelona that lends itself to fantasy? Do you believe, as Daniel says to Bea, that "the memory of this city will pursue you and you'll die of sadness"?
Barcelona provides an enchanting, mysterious, and romantic setting for the story because many things about the place, its streets, its history, and its people are unique. It is also my hometown, a place I know like the palm of my hand, and I wanted to use this fantastic backdrop as an organic character, very much like the great novelists of the nineteenth century did in creating the London of Dickens, the Paris of Victor Hugo and Balzac, etc. Hopefully, after reading the novel the memory of Barcelona and the joy of the story will pursue the readers as well.
Q. Daniel says, "Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart" (p. 8). What book was that for you? Are there any forgotten books you would like to rescue from obscurity?
I would say than rather than just one book, for me what did the trick was the world of storytelling, of language, of ideas. All books, all stories, all words and ideas, all the possibilities of the mind—such an infinite universe of wonders is what did me in and I haven't looked back. And I would like to save all books, those that are banned, those that are burned, or forgotten with contempt by the mandarins who want to tell us what is good and what is bad. Every book has a soul, as Daniel's father says, and I believe every book is worth saving from either bigotry or oblivion.
Q. Your work has been compared to Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Umberto Eco. Comparisons could also be drawn between Shadow and the works of filmmaker Pedro Almodovar—the overt sexuality, the parents' sins visited on the children, the prismatic storytelling. Do you agree with any of these comparisons? Who, if anyone, do you consider your biggest influence?
I think many direct and indirect influences go into each author's work. In my case I believe I incorporate many elements from many different traditions of storytelling, from the Victorian novelists to the metafictional literary games that remind some readers of The Name of the Rose, as well as other techniques that come from a cinematic approach. My ambition is to blend all of those storytelling tools to provide the reader with a more intense, more engaging, and ultimately deeper reading experience. The wider the author's arsenal of tools and the better technically equipped the storyteller is, the better the tale will be. I believe the craft is the most important element in any artist's work, and I try to learn from everything, to incorporate and develop as many techniques as I can into my own voice. I don't ask for credentials or classic status: from Dickens to Orson Welles, from Gothic fiction to Japanese anime. If it works, I'm in.
Q. This book is obviously an ode to books and to the art of reading. You have Bea state that "the art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that only offers us what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day" (p. 484). Do you believe this to be true? Do you share Fermín's disdain for television?
I believe it is in our hands. Now more than ever, I believe it is up to us to decide if we want to think by ourselves, or if we want to accept and submit to what others would rather have us believe. As for TV, well, I share many of Fermín's views. I'd say TV is a very powerful medium, which can be used, and sometimes it is used, to accomplish great things. Unfortunately, those are exceptions to the rule. But blaming TV as an abstract entity is nonsensical. It's our hand on the remote. There's a world out there outside the tube. Life's short: Wake up and live.
Q. The Aldaya Mansion, the allegedly cursed Angel of the Mist, seems to be a character in its own right. It has a life of its own, creaking, moaning, and breathing fire in its belly. Where did you draw your inspiration for your novel's gothic centerpiece? Are you attracted to haunted houses, the supernatural, and other horror story trappings? Do you believe in curses?
I don't believe in the supernatural, but I think it provides excellent material for literary purposes. Ghost stories are great tools to explore symbolic and atavistic elements in a narrative. Shakespeare, Dickens, and Henry James used ghosts and phantasmagoric trappings in order to add layers of meaning and effectiveness to their stories. At the end of the day, it is all fiction, poetry, and magic. Real curses, however, don't dwell in dark basements but in our hearts and conscience. We make our own moral choices, sometimes far spookier than any horror tale, and the terrors of this world are far too real and ordinary.
Q. There are many casualties of love in your novel, not just the star-crossed love between Julián and Penélope, but also the love that makes Miquel Moliner and Nuria Monfort both lay down their lives for Julián. Why do you think we are fascinated with ill-fated tragedies of love?
Because that's the stuff that thing called life is made of. Love, deception, tragedy, joy, passion, murder, jealousy, lust, fear, generosity, friendship, betrayal . . . Human nature provides the lyrics, and we novelists just compose the music.
Q. Fermín once says of the cinema, "Between you and me, this business of the seventh art leaves me cold. As far as I can see, it's only a way of fueling the mindless and making them even more stupid. Worse than football or bullfights. The cinema began as an invention for entertaining the illiterate masses. Fifty years on it's much the same." Yet your narrative is cinematic in scope, its images lifelike and grand. You are also a screenwriter. Would you like to see your novel become a movie? If so, who would you have portraying the characters, and who would make the movie?
I have no particular wish to see a film made of the novel. I don't believe everything has to become a movie, a video game, a TV show, a T-shirt, or a piece of merchandising as a matter of course or just because the almighty dollar says so. I believe nothing can tell a story, explore the universe of its characters and its many wonders with the depth, joy, and effectiveness of a novel if it is done right. This is a book for people who love to read, who love books and reading, and it will remain so. Nobody can make a better film of this novel than the one you'll start to see when you begin to read its first pages. Film is a very interesting narrative language, and I use many of its elements—techniques from the grammar of images—to enrich the construction of the novel, but it is just one more piece in a much bigger puzzle. The greatest multiplex in the universe is inside your mind, and the only ticket you need is a good, well-written novel.
Q. To ask you a question you once asked author Christopher Fowler: The world ends next month and you've time to write one last book/story. What would it be about?
You always write about yourself, know it or not, so I would just floor it to make the doomsday deadline and finish the novel I'm working on right now, which picks up this literary experiment of blending genres and traditions from where The Shadow of the Wind left it and takes it one, or two, steps further.
- Julián Carax's and Daniel's lives follow very similar trajectories. Yet one ends in tragedy, the other in happiness. What similarities are there between the paths they take? What are the differences that allow Daniel to avoid tragedy?
- Nuria Monfort tells Daniel, "Julián once wrote that coincidences are the scars of fate. There are no coincidences, Daniel. We are the puppets of our unconscious." What does that mean? What does she refer to in her own experience and in Julián's life?
- Nuria Monfort's dying words, meant for Julián, are, "There are worse prisons than words." What does she mean by this? What is she referring to?
- There are many devil figures in the story—Carax's Laín Coubert, Jacinta's Zacarias, Fermín's Fumero. How does evil manifest itself in each devil figure? What are the characteristics of the villains/devils?
- Discuss the title of the novel. What is "The Shadow of the Wind"? Where does Zafón refer to it and what does he use the image to illustrate?
- Zafón's female characters are often enigmatic, otherworldly angels full of power and mystery. Clara the blind white goddess ultimately becomes a fallen angel; Carax credits sweet Bea with saving his and Daniel's lives; Daniel's mother is actually an angel whose death renders her so ephemeral that Daniel can't even remember her face. Do you think Zafón paints his female characters differently than his male characters? What do the women represent in Daniel's life? What might the Freud loving Miquel Moliner say about Daniel's relationships with women?
- Daniel says of The Shadow of the Wind, "As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within" (p. 7). Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind unfolds much the same way, with many characters contributing fragments of their own stories in the first person point of view. What does Zafón illustrate with this method of storytelling? What do the individual mini-autobiographies contribute to the tale?
- The evil Fumero is the only son of a ridiculed father and a superficial, status-seeking mother. The troubled Julián is the bastard son of a love-starved musical mother and an amorous, amoral businessman, though he was raised by a cuckolded hatmaker. Do you think their personalities are products of nature or nurture? How are the sins of the fathers and mothers visited upon each of the characters?
An Interview with Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Barnes & Noble.com: Biographic questions: Why and when did you move from Barcelona to Los Angeles? Are you planning to stay in the U.S.?
Carlos Ruiz Zafón: I came to L.A. in 1994. It was a time in my life when I needed to get far away from Barcelona, not just distance-wise but in my own mind. I think the experience proved very positive for me. Distance puts things in the right perspective and allows you to get a clearer picture, I think. Now I feel I've come full circle, and I am thinking it's time maybe to go back to my own Barcelona, although I plan to spend part of the year in America, which has also become my home.
B&N.com: The Shadow of the Wind was a finalist for the prestigious Fernando Lara Prize, though it didn't win, and then succeeded without promotional support, as a word-of-mouth phenomenon. From L.A., how did you react to your becoming a sort of Spanish Dan Brown?
CRZ: Well, seeing your work so generously embraced by the readers is the best possible reward a novelist could hope for, especially when the response is so sincere and spontaneous, based on the read and not on hype or grand marketing hooplas.
B&N.com: The Shadow of the Wind, the novel within the novel, changes the life of Daniel, the main character. Is there a book that has changed your life?
CRZ: I think that rather than a single book, what really changed my life was the discovery of reading, of storytelling, of the world of ideas and the boundless universe contained in books. Therefore, my own Shadow of the Wind is a book of books, of all books.
B&N.com: In many places, such as Spain and Latin America, there have been times when people could and did lose their lives because of a book. Did you think about this when you wrote The Shadow…?
CRZ: Yes, very much so. Unfortunately today, as in the past and probably in the future, many will lose their freedom or their lives because of their ideas or simply in the struggle to retain their own moral integrity against totalitarian fanaticism, bigotry, and intolerance of all sorts. I am very aware of that, particularly in the times we seem to be wandering into, where the future is every day more a dark reflection of the past.
B&N.com: There is talk of a movie based on The Shadow of the Wind: rumors about whether or not the rights are up for sale, speculation about whether it will be filmed in Hollywood or in Spain, and questions as to whether you, being both an author and screenwriter, would allow others to write the screenplay. What's your view? What would your choice be?
CRZ: Since I have some experience in this area, I am especially cautious regarding the possibility of a film adaptation. If it is to happen, it will be because I feel the right elements are brought together and I'm persuaded that the adventure is worth a try. But at any rate this is not a priority for me at all. I think it is good that novels stay novels, and that there's no need at all for everything to become a movie, a TV show, a video game, a kiddie meal, or a licensed toy of the month. Nothing can tell a story, convey a world, and render characters with the intensity, depth, and magic that literature allows. The Shadow of the Wind will be always first and foremost a book, and proudly so.
B&N.com: Before it was translated into English, your book was a success in the U.S. in Spanish. Your work contains echoes of the classic European tone, reflecting the darkness of urban life and of history. It has little to do with the Spanish-language literature that was initially promoted in America: stories (written by Latinos, curiously enough, though perhaps not wisely) about characters that are not typical of real people -- let alone of Latin American literature -- but rather reflect some misconceptions about Latino immigrants or Latin Americans. This trend seems to be declining. What's your opinion on this phenomenon, and what future do you forecast for Spanish-language literature in America?
CRZ: Good question. In fact, I've always regarded the kind of "literature in Spanish" that often has been promoted in America as quite peculiar, when not slightly condescending; as seen in the endless range of lively-colored covers tarting up the-magic-of-love-meets-zesty-cooking-saga that seems to operate under the assumption that an entire literature, from Cervantes to Borges -- one that spans centuries, continents, and radically different cultures -- were an ethnic novelty of sorts, riddled with silly clichés. I suppose that some marketing strategies -- or misconceptions -- have contributed to this. However, fads are, by default, doomed to fall out of fashion, and fast. However, the fate of literature in Spanish in America is in the hands of the Spanish-speaking, and -reading, peoples.
B&N.com: The Shadow... absorbs readers with a plot that does not need second readings -- it stands by itself. However, it also holds great fascination for those who enjoy books that talk about other books, bearing traces of and references to other authors (Borges, Mendoza, et al.), titles, genres, and literary prototypes. Would you tell us your top ten literary passions?
CRZ: I am a voracious reader, so it is hard for me to condense my literary passions and references into a shortlist. I try to read widely, without prejudice, with curiosity, and paying little or no attention whatsoever to "critical" fashion or the temporary fads of what is hot, cool, or tepid at any given time. I like mostly the great novelists of the 19th century, from Dickens to Flaubert to Tolstoy and all the giants. I like the modernist American writers from the early 20th century, such as John Dos Passos. I am interested in genre fiction, or what the snobs call para-literature, for I believe that that's where the most interesting writing of the past 25 years has been produced, away from the overhyped and underwritten wasteland of the literary mainstream and below the academic radar. I am interested in many elements of the visual grammar of film and multimedia, which I believe can enrich the narrative discourse of the future novel.... Mostly I tend to read nonfiction, especially history. But above all I like to discover new authors, new voices, no matter where they come from, paying zero attention to what is being peddled as fashionable or cool, which I always find to be the ultimate uncool.
B&N.com:Have you ever had the nightmare of becoming, like Julián Carax, an author of wonderful books that (almost) no one reads?
CRZ: I guess all writers fear their work will be forgotten, not to mention never discovered in the first place. Unfortunately, most of them are right. Literature is a cruel lover, and Lady Luck doesn't smile often on those who flirt with her.
B&N.com: Before The Shadow... you won awards and recognition for young-adult novels containing elements of mystery and romance. What's the difference between writing for younger readers and for adults? Why did you change?
CRZ: The switch came naturally because my years as a young-adult novelist were more of an accident than a vocation. My real narrative voice was never in that genre, and sooner or later I had to write what I had to write. That said, the difference isn't that significant. At the end of the day you've got to write with craft and sincerity and squeeze the best you've got into each page. I think that the differences between what is considered juvenile or adult fare are, most of the time, arbitrary. Ninety-nine percent of the current popular culture consumed by billions of adults around the world is strictly juvenile, and nobody seems to have a problem with that, or even notice. These things are just labels. And, as easily as they're attached, they're detached.
B&N.com: How's your next book evolving? What's it about?
CRZ: It is under construction, under wraps, and under state secrecy. All I can say is that is a novel along the lines of The Shadow of the Wind, a literary mystery once again set in my own gothic Barcelona...
B&N.com:Anything else that you'd like to share with your readers?
CRZ: I'd like to invite them to the adventure of reading, to take the leap beyond conventions and discover new authors and new books of which they never heard before, to develop their own criteria. To read is to live more, and live better. Life is short, so carpe diem, and carpe libri.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have over 4,000 books in my personal library. I have been an voracious reader for almost 60 years and I am not sure I have ever read a book that has as many good things going for it as The Shadow of the Wind. Not only are the characters interesting but there are so many really good ones. When the movie is made of this novel, the actors are going to be standing in line for any part they can get. A love story, an historical mystery, a story about a boy growing up and his relationship with his father, a great supporting cast all woven together by a superb storyteller. I want someone to take me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I want to wander the shelves and find my Shadow of the Wind. If you like to read you are going to love this book, I did. An A+
The writing style, the characters, a plot that continually keeps you guessing...I am scouring book lists to find another book that even comes close to this one. And I am picky! I would find it hard to find a book that flows so smoothly.
Though I may be young, I'm no idiot. A lot of novels that come out these days reek of our modern day, which isn't always what we are wanting.
The way this book is written takes you to another world... you yourself feel consumed by the story and it's events. In the beginning of the story, young Daniel is brought to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books- a resting place of sorts for books who only weather the times due to it's walls. His father tells him that every book in that cemetery has been somebody's best friend. Daniel is to choose a book of his choice, and to be it's protector, to ensure it remains alive has it has in the Cemetery of Forgotten books. He chooses "The Shadow of the Wind" by Julian Carax.
In a way... you increasingly feel as if you are this books protector, something in my mind that could only be done through the words of a masterpiece. And as the story progresses, one cannot help but to feel as if they've come to know Barcelona, and it's saintly, or otherwise, people.
If you are wanting a good book to read, I assure you by picking up this book will bring you no form of regret nor sense of lost time. It's truly a book that by means unknown to you entices you until your spellbound, which in all honestly is accomplished by the first page.
Pick up a copy... you will not mourn the loss of the few dollars, rather wonder how less then fifteen dollars reaped such an excellent read.
This is one of the best books I have ever read in terms of plot, character development and the quality of the writing. Carlos Ruiz Zafon has written an absorbing and compelling story that I could not put down. The translator did a masterful job. Simply a great book.
From cover to cover this book engrosses it's audience with beautifully written literature. I casually came across this book through this site and I devoured the first half of the book within the first night. I thoroughly and utterly recommend this book since it is unparallel to any other book you will ever encounter.
I agree that the story did pull you in. But I read aloud in my head (a contradiction in terms, I know) and found it difficult to pronounce many of the names and places in the book. Too, at times, it seemed he went off on a path so far at times, that I had to go back a few pages to try to remember what he was writing about in the first place. All and all though, it was a very good book and a recommended read. I will say though that I was able to figure out some of the surprises, including the relationship between two of the main characters. I can see why Stephen King liked this book, as he's famous for going off on tagents for pages and pages and losing the reader at times.
I've always loved reading, I can't go about life without having a book at hand. I also find myself to be picky about some books, so I came to the conclusion that I would never have a favorite. I was wrong. From the first sentence to the very last, this book had me under it's spell. I would refuse to sleep at night so I could further indulge my need to find out what would happen next. I have never read such a beautiful story in my life. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is an amazing author, and Lucia Graves did an equally amazing job with the translation. I got into The Shadow of the Wind thinking it would be very serious, but to my surprise, I could not have imagined how hilarious the dialogue or story would get at certain points when I first opened it. This book has a little of everything so anyone can enjoy it. I cannot recommend this novel enough, and all I know is that I will continue to read Mr. Zafon's stories until I die, and hope that someday I find a place like the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
I think any reader can relate: "...few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a place in our memory to which, soon or later-no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget - we wil return." Any avid reader can read those words and instantly name the book that for him/her fits that description. Now imagine that after that transformative experience you cannot find another copy of that book or other work by the author. Not only are you disappointed that you can't read more of his/her work, but you realize you can't introduce your new find to others. That is the situation Daniel is in after discovering The Shadow in the Wind by Julian Carax in the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. But, Daniel is undeterred. He is determined to learn the history of Carax. Daniel uncovers a tragic life undone by a web of secrets that eerily parallel his own life. As Daniel peels back each layer of Carax's life, the more in danger his life becomes. <br/><br/>I have seen very mixed reviews. I thought it was an excellent book. I loved the thought that books carry a bit of the soul of the author and that words are important. I thought it had a good suspense throughout the book, wonderful characters, and a great stoyline. My only complaint (very minor) was how random freindship with Fermin. I loved the character of Fermin, but how many business owners are really going to hire a homeless guy off the street that no one knows anything about?
The librarian where I work highly recommended this one. It started out great with me highlighting several passages of intriguing depth, however, the story began to grow mundane and predictable as the main character's life "shadowed" the fictitious author's life. The earlier quality of writing was not seen again for the remainder of the book, and I feel that there were several missed opportunities to truly make the reader more invested in the characters.
This book was very well written and original in its content. I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read the author's next book.
A true work of literature but in a good way. The main character, Daniel, is lovable and believable ~ the story is interesting and intriguing. I have enjoyed several of B&N recommendations (see below). I enjoy many types of books but few are as memorable as this.
This book was very different! Beautifully written, but very slow to start. I thought that it would be mostly about the cemetery of forgotten books mentioned in the synopsis, but it was about a boy investigating the mysterious disappearance of an obscure author. It is also about TRAGIC love and how it can destroy someone's life completely due to ignorance. What I did not like about the book was the villain- a VILE police officer and the ending was too rushed after such a sloooow storyline.
This book quickly became my favorite book. I started it one evening and just couldn't put it down. It has been a long time since a book had gripped me, nay, made me so obsessive that I had to continue reading it. Zafon's description of the cemetary for books is definately a place I'd love to visit before I die. Enchanting and thrilling all at once.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is an amazing author. His writing style is captivating and beautiful. He holds you throughout an off beat tale with fantastic character development and vivid imagery. No matter where the story took you, you are willing to buy into it because Zafon is so cohesive. Be prepared to cancel your plans, as once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down, you are simply too invested in the characters not to find out their fate. I recommend this book to all of my friends. After reading it I could not wait for his next book, Angel's Game, to be translated into English as well.
This book was selected for my book club by a gal who said it was in her 10 top reads ever...well I have to agree completely-it's got everything in it-suspense, mystery, great characters, and it all takes place in one of most amazing cities in the world-Barcelona! I highly suggest this book to anyone who loves to read-it will quickly become one of your favorites!
This book was absoulutly amazing, a great read for more mature readers, such as the very mature young adults- adults, due to some questionable scenes, but overall I loved the writing style, characters, conflicts, love intrests and the story underneath all the rest about a boy growing into a man through painful experiences that make him stronger.
The mission of reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was handed to me as a summer assignment for school. Being an athlete as well as a high school senior this task seemed to be more of a chore than anything. The beginning of the book did not heighten my interest as it started off slow, but the book eventually blossomed into an amazing story, captivating my attention. Zafon offers the reader a tremendous story of mystery, love, and symbolism that keeps the mind thinking while filling it with contentment. I found my hands to be tied to this book as it seemed to follow me wherever I went. Overall this was a very good read and a great way to spend your free time.
All of the above ingredients makes this a book that you can not put down. It's an excellent read.
I read this for my book club and we all enjoyed the the plot twists and the characters. Carlos Ruiz Zafon keeps you intrigued throughout the story. The descriptions of Barcelona reminded me of a trip that I made there. For anyone that loves books this is a must read.
The Shadow of the Wind is a labyrinthine mystery surrounding a book called.....The Shadow of the Wind. Someone is systematically finding and destroying every copy of this book and all the others written by the same author, Julian Carax. Daniel, a young man in 1945 Barcelona is dedicated to finding out this mystery no matter the cost. As Daniel slowly unravels the puzzle of Carax and his books, we see the similarities and parallels between Daniel and Julian Carax. This is a tale of love and loss, murder and madness. It's filled with intriguing characters and the almost tangible atmosphere of Barcelona. In the words of Stephen King, The Shadow of the Wind is "one gorgeous read."
Hidden in the back streets of Barcelona is the Cemetery of Lost Books a storehouse for out-of-print books, rescued by book lovers. Here Daniel Sempere, a ten year old, is allowed to choose a book and finds, "The Shadow of the Wind", by Julián Carax. While searching information about the author, Julian discoveres that he has the last known copy. Lain Coubert, a stranger, is out to destroy Carax's work completely. (In Carax's book, Laín Coubert, is painted as the Devil.) During the next ten years, Daniel begins to look into Carax's life, putting together, secrets and tragedies that followed Carax's life and work. By doing this, Daniel, stirs up memories and vendettas that place in doubt his own safety. He also discovers things between the author's life and his own. Wanting to learn more, Daniel brings on the wrath of more real enemies than did Coubert, including a policeman with secrets of his own. Daniel is a typical teenager, very naive and romantically slow. Losing his mother when he was young, women are strange creatures to him. Even with this Daniel, like Carax, will risk his life for the sake of women he could never have. She comes from money while Daniel's father runs a small bookshop and they do not have much. The novel is wonderful in the way that Zafon combines both worlds. I was amazed in the way the book draws you in. It is a book that once you start is hard to put down.
A Borders employee recommended this book to me. Great book. Very well written.
This is a must read. It's gripping to the last moment. It is a book I will have to read a few times just to capture all the details I missed during the first read.
I got it as a present and WHAT A PRESENT!!, this is the best book i have ever read. I almost couldn't stop. it took me 3 days to read it and when i finally got to the last page i felt kind of empty..thinking and now what??...when i am going to get something as good as this?.. EXCELENT BOOK.
I read this book over three years ago. Whenever I see this book on display at B&N, I stop shoppers to recommend that they buy it. Even to this very day there's only been a few that i have read nearly as good...