The international literary sensation-a runaway bestseller in Spain, rights sold in more than 20 countries-about a boy's quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author whose book has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget. Barcelona, 1945-just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Windby one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn't find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly. As with all astounding novels, The Shadow of the Windsends the mind groping for comparisons-The Crimson Petal and the White?The novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte? Of Victor Hugo? Love in the Time of Cholera?-but in the end, as with all astounding novels, no comparison can suffice. As one leading Spanish reviewer wrote, "The originality of Ruiz Zafón's voice is bombproof and displays a diabolical talent. The Shadow of the Wind announces a phenomenon in Spanish literature." An uncannily absorbing historical mystery, a heart-piercing romance, and a moving homage to the mystical power of books, The Shadow of the Windis a triumph of the storyteller's art. Translated by Lucia Graves.
Carlos Ruiz Zaf+¦n, thirty-nine, grew up in Barcelona. The Shadow of the Wind has spent more than a year on the Spanish bestseller list, much of it at number one, and has sold in more than twenty countries.
Lucia Graves was raised on the island of Majorca in postwar Spain. She has published Spanish-language editions of the work of her father, the poet Robert Graves, and books by Katherine Mansfield and Ana+»s Nin.
1.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. Tomas 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 Tomas 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 Julian 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 Julian 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 Barcelo can help us...." Gustavo Barcelo 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, Barcelo 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 Barcelo 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, Barcelo would lower its price, or even give it away, if he felt that the buyer was a serious reader and not an accidental browser. Barcelo 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 cafe on Calle Montsio, where Barcelo 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 cafe's charms. Stone dragons guarded a lamplit facade anchored in shadows. Inside, voices seemed shaded by the echoes of othe