David's alcoholic father, who is being pursued for political reasons, has deserted David and his attractive red-haired mother. David inhabits a fantasy world, fuelled by the films he sees at his local cinema and by images of war - Spitfires crashing into the sea, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima - and by the image of an RAF pilot whose photograph is pinned on his bedroom wall. David and his friend spend their time collecting detachable lizards' tails; symbolic of the detachment and uncertainty which characterises their young lives in troubled post-war Spain. Lizard Tails was winner of the Spanish National Narrative Prize.
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(197mm x 129mm x 15mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Marse's fine novel set in post-Civil War Spain is a fascinating, often eccentric and offbeat evocation of the past and the way it insinuates itself into the present. It also manages to be a very funny, often moving portrait of growing up, capturing the spirit of childhood in all its messy glory. It centres on the Bartra family, Republican sympathizers holed up in an old doctor's surgery in a suburb of Barcelona and under investigation by the gaunt-looking and sinister Inspector Galvan. Galvan is pursuing the family's absentee father - anti-hero and confirmed alcoholic - but becomes increasingly attracted to the proud, redheaded, pregnant matriarch. Evading the adult life that increasingly comes to dominate him, David, Senora Bartra's son, escapes into a fantasy world of Second World War fighter pilots, films at his local cinema, and imaginary conversations - usually with his unborn brother who, bizarrely, acts as narrator. The lizard tails that David severs with boyish cruelty squirm like the nerve-endings of events that refuse to wither away. Nick Caistor's translation works particularly well in the prose passages, which manage to be unselfconsciously lyrical. He's less successful in communicating how Marse's characters speak - their often slangy dialogue largely comes across as laboured and awkward. Even so, this is still a compelling addition to the canon of contemporary European fiction. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Juan Marse Carbo
Juan Marse was born in Barcelona in 1933. Following the publication of his first novel in 1960 he has gone on to become one of the most respected living authors in Spain. He has been honoured with many literary prizes, including the National Narrative Prize for Lizard Tails, the European Literature Prize for Shanghai Nights and, in 2008, the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious award for Spanish-language Literature.