Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012 - a dark tale of human ambition by the European master A.S. Byatt called 'A brilliantly inventive writer'.
Bernardo Atxaga was born in Gipuzkoa in Spain in 1951 and lives in the Basque Country, writing in Basque and Spanish. He is a prizewinning novelist and poet, whose books, including Obabakoak and The Accordionist's Son, have won critical acclaim in Spain and abroad. His works have been translated into twenty-two languages. Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator from Spanish and Portugese for over twenty years, translating such writers as Jose Saramago, Eca de Queiroz, Luis Fernando Verissimo and Fernando Pessoa. Her work has brought her a number of prizes, the most recent of which was the 2010 Premio Valle-Inclan for Javier Marias' Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell.
"A dark comedy about the vanity of human desires which deftly
balances compassion and cynicism" * Financial Times *
"Bizarrely funny and beautifully crafted" * Times Literary Supplement *
"Undeniably compelling" * Daily Mail *
"A brilliantly inventive writer...He understands the nature of storytelling and is at once terribly moving and wildly funny" -- A. S. Byatt
"Seven Houses in France is an enjoyable, somewhat frightening novel by one of Europe's best novelists... Atxaga is still the master of a complex story, told with deceptive simplicity" -- Michael Eaude * Independent *
Acclaimed Basque fiction writer Atxaga has written a number of complex character studies (e.g., The Accordionist's Son; The Lone Woman) that portray individuals complicit with politically motivated violence, and here he returns to that powerful theme. This masterly, deeply unsettling novel takes as its subject one of the darkest chapters in human history-Belgian King Leopold II's cruel and pitiless exploitation of the Congo in the early 1900s. This is ground Joseph Conrad explored in The Heart of Darkness, and Atxaga is obviously revisiting that famous novel. The primary theme is the evil power of political ideology and how it can fuel violence and create conditions that lead to atrocities. The Belgian army officers at the center of this novel blithely assume an absolute cultural and moral superiority-a belief that enables them to enslave and exploit the native population remorselessly. There is a warning here for modern readers about the dangerous link between ideology and catastrophic violence. VERDICT Chilling and unforgettable; recommended for fans of literary fiction.-Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Comm. Coll., CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.