Such small hands by Andres Barba

Image of Such Small Hands

Such small hands by Andres Barba

Spanish fiction

Original title – Las Manos pequeñas

Translator – Lisa Dillman

Source – personal copy

Here we have Another of the writers that were on the Granta list of the best 22 Spanish writers. Andres Barba has had another book translated into English. This is the first book by him, I have read. He has written ten novels.He has a number of prizes for his books. He also works as a translator doing the works of Joesph Conrad and Alice in Wonderland being among them.

One day she said , “We have the same name: Marina.”

And what if , like her , Marina started to have fewer memories, hardly any memories,no mermories at all ?

“we have the same name ”

Because dolly was the only one who didn’t lie . She was the only  one calm, as if halfway through a long life. and she looked different from everyone else, Time passed over her, and she remained ever alert, like a visionary, astonished, lashless eyes(broken; now even when you laid her down, they wouldn’t lose)

The doll is the only one she trusted as others lied.

This is a very short novella clocking in at just 86 pages. It only arrived today and I took it with me when I went with Amanda to an appointment and read it whilst she was with the doctor in about an hour. It is the tale of Marina an orphan that has lost her mum and dad in a car crash,  or as she keeps putting it .””My father died instantly and my mother in Hospital. The book opens as she is pulled from the crash. Awaking with a scar on her tum. Also, a number people talking to her trying to get her to open up. One way is to give her a doll. The doll she also gives the name Marina. She is then passed fit to leave the hospital and travel to the Orphanage.This is where the story moves into two narratives her the first Marina,  then a collective voice of the fellow Orphans,  as they greet Marina. The orphanage is a strange world to her all them in bright dresses and the same black shoes. The Orphans aren’t kind to her and we see Marina through their eyes as well as hers in a frightening look at being young and lost in a world of fellow lost souls.Also, the violent and horrific way kids can treat each other.

When class was over we liked to play. We’d sing as the jump rope hit the sand with a dull crack. To get in the circle you had to pay attention, had to calculate the jump rope’s arc, its speed, adapt your rhythm to the chorus. Once you were in you felt exposed, tense, as if each time the rope cracked down, it hit your mouth, or your stomach. with each thump you went around the world.

There is a brutal nature to this play rather like in Lord of the flies which this part remind me of

Another of the current crop of books, I have read from Spanish in recent years.  That has a creepy surreal edge to the narrative two that spring to mind is The children and fever dream. Which both feature children and like this walk a line between real and surrealness. The Orphanage is where this story starts to turn a strange way.  Although the way MArina talks at the time has a vacant feel about it as though her heart has been ripped out of her. The black and whiteness of the statement about her parents hang in the air when she says it. This in Lit terms is an Amuse Buche of a book. A book that sets you as a reader minds racing far beyond it mere 86 pages. Also have to say the cover is rather creepy to this book as well.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Annabel (gaskella)
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 17:55:33

    I really enjoyed this novella. Lovely the Greek chorus of the girls especially.

    Reply

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