5 novels to get away from it all
“Reading gives us a place where we can go when we have to stay where we are”, said the British academic and aphorist Mason Cooley. The fact is, every novel is a trip in time and space; it puts us in other people’s shoes and shows us parallel worlds and realities. Here you have five recent books to get away from the daily hustle and bustle and the stress of the modern world.
Let no one sleep, by Juan José Millás
Whether it be it in his columns, his journalist articles or in novels like this, Juan José Millás’s talent to turn reality inside out like a sock is amazing.
The starting point of Let No One Sleep (ed. Alfaguara) is one of those that catch the reader from the first page: Lucía, a computer programmer, loses her job and decides to work as a taxi driver in the hope of being lucky enough to find her former neighbour, an actor with whom she is uncontrollably in love.
With Puccini’s famous Turandot opera as another of Lucía’s obsessions, the novel is built through the conversation she has with the passengers she takes in her taxi and recurrent symbols like that of the birds, which have been with her since her childhood. Millás manages to make the fantastic break into the quotidian in his characteristic style, full of literary games and resources that make us feel a little less alone. It works with his characters; and with his readers too.
With Let No One Sleep you will learn that it is never too late to change your life.
The order of the day, by Eric Vuillard
A perfect book to find out more about the Second World War and the economic apparatus of the Nazi regime.
Today, more than 70 years after the end of the Second World War, there are still questions that remain unanswered. How is it possible that the Third Reich could rise and expand throughout Europe? Who gave Hitler and the Nazi party economic support for almost a decade? The French writer Eric Vuillard, winner of the Goncourt Award 2017 (the top award for French writing), through this book published by Tusquets, aims to answer these questions by means of an account in the form of a novel of the meetings between the Führer and European entrepreneurs and high officials like Lord Halifax and Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor before the German occupation.
Vuillard builds brief prints of meetings, gatherings and banquets with terrifying precision, where the Nazi hierarchs achieved the support of the great German entrepreneurs, some very willingly and others victims of extortion and threats. Hitler, Goebbels and Goering, among others, deploy the strategies to take absolute control of the continent, while some of their benefactors take advantage of the existence of the concentration camps to get slave labour.
The eight mountains, by Paolo Cognetti
You will love The Eight Mountains if you like novels about initiation and the mountain environment.
Winner of the Strega award in Italy and the Médicis award in France, this novel that treats initiation with the mountain scenery of the Alps as a setting, has become a European sales phenomenon. It is not a normal kind of bestseller, but rather a tender story of the friendship between two children and nature as a refuge and shared space.
“Whatever the reason, live in the mountains we have over our heads“, says little Ludo, who tells this story in the sense of an autobiography. The little village of Grana, Monte Rosa and the city of Milan are the main locations of a book written with simplicity, almost with modesty, as if by telling the story Cognetti were revealing the keys to his infancy. Let yourself be carried away by his poetic language and discover one of the most promising authors of Italian literature.
Last call, by Tim Powers
Last call is ideal if what you are looking for is evasion and fantasy with a touch of social critique.
Black magic, poker, the myth of the founding of Las Vegas and the mastery of one of the kings of science fiction. An unbeatable combination, just like four aces, brought together in a single book now republished by Gigamesh. The winner of the World Prize for Fantasy and the Locus Award 1993 is now back in the bookshops to dazzle all kinds of readers. Last call, the first part of a trilogy, tells the story of Scott Crane, a professional card player who is horrified to discover that what was played in a legendary game two decades ago was no less than that most dear to him: his soul.
Tim Powers, the author of essential novels of fantasy like The Anubis Gates and Stranger Tides, here takes us to the Mecca of gambling, its neon lights and an underworld populated by gods in an eternal fight for final victory. In the hands of Powers the punter, who knows and Masters all literary tricks, the cards are a metaphor of the mysteries of life and of the skill and luck necessary to sail its unsure waters.
The green chamber, by Martine Desjardins
The Green Chamber offers a valuable lesson: greed is the worst of one’s enemies.
The Delorme house is in need of urgent refurbishment, and it says so directly because this, and no other, is the narrator of this Gothic novel in which the miserliness of the family that lives there is as absurd as it is amusing. The building’s particular revenge, having jealously safeguarded the family secrets until now, is to reveal to the reader the miseries of some characters prepared to do anything to gather more wealth.
The Canadian writer Martine Desjardins was the winner of the Jacques-Brossard Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy with this sarcastic fable published by Impedimenta. The authoress masterfully uses the mystery surrounding the domed room known as “the green chamber” to explore the causes and consequences of unlimited greed. The mixture of black humour and touches of fantasy make its reading as suggestive as it is refreshing.