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The Barcelona Brothers Paperback – August 28, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Poet Carlos Zanón has surprised and shaken us with a transgressive novel that makes no concessions. The Barcelona Brothers speaks to us about a Barcelona in crisis, neighborhoods saturated with immigration where past and future don’t exist, where kids are strung out on drugs and alcohol. It’s everything but politically correct. The words interculturalism, integration, and tolerance don’t exist. Carlos Zanón is a ruthless reporter of the new era.” —Rosa Mora, El País

The Barcelona Brothers…is a virulent poem about absent fathers and anguished youths with a tense and elaborate dramatic structure.” —Lilian Neuman, La Vanguardia

“For crime fans who think of Barcelona as one of the world’s most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities, it will be an eye-opener.” —Booklist
 
"This feverish, present-tense novel, Zanón’s first to be published in English, strives for unflinching honesty in its stark portrait of the Barcelona slums that serve as the backdrop to an inexplicable crime...Zanón sharply captures the mental detritus of his characters’ fleeting thoughts, while the tortured relationship of the native-born Alex and Epi to their North African friend dramatizes the tensions festering beneath Spain’s nominally multicultural surface. The prevalence of fatherlessness among his characters sounds a warning bell for the country’s future." —Publishers Weekly

“A dark, nihilistic novel evoking the spirit of Dostoevsky.” —Kirkus

"Zanón’s powerful prose builds and maintains teeth-clenching tension as the story moves to a conclusion that the reader will both anticipate and dread." —Tzer Island

"The dialogue is spot-on, the descriptions are confident, even lyrical at times, and it manages to skim the edges of pulp territory while never getting too lurid. The Barcelona Brothers takes a long, hard look at what people are capable of when they have no other options, and a portrait of a modern, multicultural Barcelona, with all the tensions simmering under the touristy surface." —Crime Fiction Lover

"The manner in which Zanon shows us the hearts and minds of the principals, set against the violence and mind-numbing hopelessness of the barrio, is absolutely wonderful." —Book Reporter

About the Author

Carlos Zanón is the author of four volumes of poetry and three novels, which have received wide critical acclaim in Spain. The Barcelona Brothers is his first novel to be published in English. A literary critic and screenwriter, he has also collaborated as a lyricist for rock bands. He lives in Barcelona. Visit him at www.carloszanon.com

John Cullen is the translator of many books from Spanish, French, German, and Italian, including Yasmina Khadra’s Middle East Trilogy (The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, and The Sirens of Baghdad), Christa Wolf’s Medea, Manuel de Lope’s The Wrong Blood (Other Press), and Eduardo Sacheri’s The Secret in Their Eyes (Other Press). He lives in upstate New York.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590515188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515181
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Like a black angel of memory, almost every tale, every occurrence finds an echo inside the walls of the barrio." The Barcelona Brothers (from which this quotation is drawn) tells a story of intertwined lives, of barrio residents reacting to the echo of a dramatic event that will force them to reexamine their desperate lives.

The novel opens with the mother of all bar fights. Tanveer Hussein loses. His assailant, Epi Dalmau, flees. Epi's brother Alex, a medicated schizophrenic, witnesses the killing, as does Salva, the bar's owner. Rumors spread around the barrio about the cause and perpetrator of the assault on Tanveer, all of them wrong. As the story progresses, glimpses of the past alternate with snatches of the present, providing clues to Epi's motive for attacking Tanveer. That Tanveer deserves to die becomes increasingly apparent as his violent life is revealed, yet Epi seems an unlikely assassin.

The story drifts from past to present, from one damaged character to another. Whether they are central to the story or playing a bit part, the characters are unique and unforgettable. Tiffany Brisette, Tanveer's girlfriend, is driven by the need to feel empowered. She thinks she can control the game when she's with a man because she's the only one who knows they're playing a game. Her sister Jamelia, a little slow and befuddled by life (and by far the novel's sweetest character), is convinced that God will eventually punish Tiffany for being mean to everyone. Aging part-time sex worker Rocío Baeza just wants to stay alive while she supplements her family's income. Allawi, like barbers everywhere, is the barrio's central repository of gossip.

Carlos Zanón writes with insight and sensitivity about hopeless and forgotten lives.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
In Barcelona, Epi and Alex Dalmau enter a dive where one can buy drinks as well as whores and drugs. To Alex's horror, Epi batters the skull of their Moroccan friend Tanveer Hussein with a hammer before fleeing the bar. To protect his brother, Alex informs the police that a "Paki" who fled from the bar killed Tanveer.

While the police hunt for the Pakistani, Alex tries to learn why Epi murdered Tanveer. Meanwhile Epi remains obsessed with his ex-squeeze Tiffany Brisette, who was stepping out with Tanveer.

This is a dark Spanish thriller that uses flashbacks to convey to readers how Epi, Tanveer and Tiffany got to that deadly assault. The storyline pulls no punches when it comes to racial profiling, fatherless children as adults perpetuating the fatherlessness, and life in the sewers of the slums. Carlos Zanón provides a tense stark warning that Spain better beware and deal with the brutal undercurrent that threatens society.

Harriet Klausner
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This was not even a good crime novel and certainly more than that, which is what I was expecting. There's no story, no characterization (the bitch is just a bitch, no reason, no complexity). What's most disappointing is there is no barrio, no sense of the place, the street culture. Even bad action novels shouldn't be boring, but this one is. It's an easy read and I skimmed much of it, but I got to the end (I didn't have another light read on hand), so it gets two stars instead of one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Max Read on October 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Barcelona Brothers" was written by Carlos Zanon an accomplished Spanish literary critic and screenwriter and was translated from the Spanish to English by John Cullen.

The writing style is uncomplicated, and produces an even cadence artfully filled with description and feeling. The story is told by an anonymous narrator about the characters and circumstances that form the novels essence.

It is a story about two brothers, Epi and Alex Dalmau each with emotional and psychological problems. Alex suffers outwardly from paranoid schizophrenia and Epi from subdued psychotic perceptions of self worth. What happens to Epi and Alex is born of a perverted love triangle formed by one Tiffany Brisette, a prostitute, and Epi and Epi's friend Tanveer Hussein, a highly disturbed and dangerous man. The setting is the barrio of the city, a place of seamy characters, places and dealings where drugs are a persistent prelude to violence and prostitutes are often the victims. The unraveling of things for Epi begins with the realization that he is in love with Tiffany but Tiffany does not return his love and in fact prefers a relationship with Tanveer; a situation that clearly threatens Epi's illusions of life with Tiffany and a situation that Epi is driven to rectify.

There are no particular surprises in the development of the tale but it is a captivating look at the character of Epi and his psychosis along with a glimpse at the gritty life in the barrio. The conclusion of the novel leaves the reader lingering for something more to the story; however, only imagination can fill the empty pages.

All in all I liked the novel and found it an enjoyable read though not particularly memorable and perhaps a little anticlimactic, even mundane in its pursuits. None the less, I would recommend you add it to your reading list.
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