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.
“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
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Skip this one!
Narration was awful.
Probably not. I expected more from the reviews, but was disappointed.
The story was alright but the author is redundant--essentially repeats himself ad nauseam
same ideas over and over. Nor are the ideas themselves particularly novel or new.
Her vocal range is very limited. The quality of her voice was forced, breathy, and her diction is poor. The sound quality was not so great.
I could have skipped it.
- Julie Ann Mendez-deLeon