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The Light of the Fireflies by [Paul Pen, Simon Bruni]
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The Light of the Fireflies Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 4,601 ratings

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From the Editor

As a mother of a young boy, I’m probably predisposed to feel protective of children in peril, and the plight of the ten-year-old protagonist of Paul Pen’s The Light of the Fireflies captured my heart and filled me with apprehension. Readers who, like me, love the terror and claustrophobia of Stephen King’s best works and the enigmatic and thought-provoking mystery of the television show Lost will recognize these qualities in The Light of the Fireflies.

Confined to an underground set of rooms with his immediate family and grandmother, the boy still manages to establish routines, play games, and cultivate a fascination with the natural world that he’s never seen. However, when his sister gives birth, he begins to fear that his loving family—the only people he’s ever known—are misleading him about fundamental things: Who is the father of this baby, who is it that they hear walking above them in the night, and what is it that really keeps them in their subterranean prison away from sunlight and fresh air?

Pen doesn’t shy away from the harrowing things his characters are capable of, nor does he diminish their humanity by making them one-dimensional monsters. I was shocked at the disturbing revelations about what led the family underground, and charmed by the way they manage to bring magic and joy to their day-to-day existence. Despite the bleakness of their surroundings, love, light, and the power of compassion make their way through and help the boy find illumination. Pen has a genius for taking the familiar and making it hair-raising. It’s a simultaneously terrifying and hopeful world he’s created, and I welcome you to explore both the darkness and the light.

- Elizabeth DeNoma, Editor

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Pen is an author, journalist, and scriptwriter. In 2014, he won the Gonzoo Prize for author of the year from Spanish newspaper 20 minutos, awarded by popular vote. His first novel, The Warning, also earned him the title of Fnac New Talent in 2011 and has been translated into German and Italian. Pen’s short stories include a digital-format collection of suspenseful tales titled Thirteen Stories. The Light of the Fireflies is his second novel and is available in English for the first time.

About the Translator

Simon Bruni is a translator of fiction and nonfiction from Spanish, a language he acquired through “total immersion” living in Alicante, Valencia, and Santander. He studied Spanish and linguistics at Queen Mary University of London and literary translation at the University of Exeter. His literary translations include nov­els, short stories, and video games, while his nonfiction portfolio spans fields as diverse as journalism, social geography, early modern witch­craft, food security, and military history.

He has won two third-place prizes in the John Dryden Translation Competition: in 2015 for his translation of Paul Pen’s harrowing short story “The Porcelain Boy,” and in 2011 for Francisco Pérez Gandul’s slang-driven novel Cell 211. His translation of Paul Pen’s novel The Light of the Fireflies has sold more than a hundred thousand copies worldwide.

Simon serves on the executive committee of the Society of Authors’ Translators Association (TA) and is a member of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). For more information, please visit www.simonbruni.com.


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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5
4,601 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on March 30, 2018
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Top international reviews

Heidi
4.0 out of 5 stars purely because of that beautiful cover. It also seemed to have great ratings ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 31, 2017
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4.0 out of 5 stars and there are some great surprises and twists and turns
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 3, 2017
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Abi
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, heartbreaking, heartwarming - if you read only one book this year, make it this one.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2016
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Aisling
4.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend getting it in a physical copy over kindle version
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 29, 2016
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Evelyn W
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius but disturbing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 19, 2016
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Belfast Texan
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful and Unpleasant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 15, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars So unusual!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 17, 2016
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Laura Explora
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a great book, not going to right a description of ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2016
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M. Lipo
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved this book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 31, 2020
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Marlis
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and engaging
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 7, 2016
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Martina
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange but good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 24, 2017
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Amy King
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling but unrealistic ending
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2016
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M. Gb
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondrous!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2016
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Sarahleen Strickland
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing style, translated well into English but very unrealistic and disappointing plot.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2020
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Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me feeling very sad
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2019
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