Monday, March 12, 2007

Reading Across Borders Book #4:
The Shadow of the Wind

I bought this title for our library a couple of years ago, though I don't remember why (except that it sounded good, and it was on the New York Times bestseller list for a while, deservedly so). Browsing the shelves for a Reader's Advisory consultation with a student last week, I saw it again and decided to give it a go.

The Shadow of the Wind is the first novel by Carlos Ruis Zafón, originally published in Spain (in Spanish, naturally) in 2001, and was a word-of-mouth bestseller. It is a literary mystery, set in post-Civil War Barcelona. Unlike the "mystery and detective" genre that I race through for plot and entertainment, this novel uses the unknowns at the center of the story as a device to pursue character study, civilization, the role of literature, the nature of writing as an art, family secrets and post-war societal changes. And the Barcelona details are rich and colorful. The cartoon at right is a pretty good plot summary.

About halfway through I had figured out "who dunnit," and was a little disappointed that it had been so obvious. But, whodunnit isn't the point at all, in fact, it becomes irrelevant in the context of why, the characters' lives, what happened before, and what will happen in their futures. This is a gorgeous read, and beautifully translated. Whether you are a fan of mysteries, or shun them in preference to "literature," you will find The Shadow of the Wind to be a satisfying excursion.

Find this book in the Paideia Library, at your local public library or bookstore.
Thanks to Unshelved for the cartoon (published yesterday, March 11. How's that for synchronicity?).

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