Thus Bad Begins (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Javier Marias is an acquired taste, but once you’re on board there’s no getting off the Marias express.  (Literally, the sentences and paragraphs are too labyrinthian to pause once you’ve begun.)  Still building an audience in the US, but considered a master in Europe and a good bet each Fall for a Nobel Prize by English bookmakers, the Spanish author’s latest is a study from afar of a bad marriage, repressed memories and the legacy of the hidden crimes of the Spanish Civil War BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER - you’re reading Marias for the improvisational quality of his sentences and the relentlessness with which he drills down to the depths of the his character’s motivations.  His hypnotic Proustian digressions prove that with great literature the journey is more important than the destination.  -Scott

— From Scott's Picks

Description


In Madrid, 1980, five years after Franco's death, Juan de Vere takes a job assisting Eduardo Muriel, a film director in the twilight of his career. Muriel is eccentric but charming, an irresistible idol for Juan. But certain people, and forces, loom, among them Beatriz, Muriel's difficult wife; and Dr. Jorge Van Vechten, a mysterious figure implicated in unsavory rumors involving Muriel. As Juan digs deeper into all three of their lives, the deceptions and loyalties he begins to uncover will change the course of his young life. Thus Bad Begins is an ambitious, sweeping novel of a young man and his country, and of life in the wake of a dictator's reign.

About the Author


JAVIER MARÍAS was born in Madrid in 1951. The recipient of numerous prizes, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Femina Étranger, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, he has written fifteen novels, three story collections, and twenty works of collected articles and essays. His books have been translated into forty-four languages, in fifty-seven countries, and have sold more than eight million worldwide.

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.

Praise For…


*Named the #1 Best Book of the Year in Spain by El País*

“As a literary mystery, Thus Bad Begins calls to mind Paul Auster, Donna Tartt, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón; purely as literature, it feels like an heir to the searching human nuance of the novels of Gabriel García Márquez . . . Javier Marías is the real deal . . . Mesmerizing.” USA Today

“The book that defines Marías’s oeuvre as one of Spain’s most celebrated contemporary writers . . . Marías creates a symphony.” Boston Globe

“A demonstration of what fiction at its best can achieve.” —Hari Kunzru, The Guardian 

“A major work from a global talent, Thus Bad Begins knits Hitchcockian suspense into a hypnotic tale crackling with erotic tension and political strife.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune 

“Erudite, strange, hypnotic, and beautiful . . . One reads Javier Marías for his ability to make the smallest parts of the world come alive . . . I found myself most loving the book for its pages of brilliant observations, its musings and its suspenseful elegant voice . . . I could not put it down.” Los Angeles Times
 
“‘Rear Window’ in Madrid . . . Thus Bad Begins delivers all of Marías’s trademark qualities—chewy philosophical meditation, prose of fastidious elegance, and the suspense of an old-fashioned potboiler . . . It’s now clear that Margaret Jull Costa and Javier Marías have forged one of the most fruitful author-translator partnerships in current literature.” —Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating . . . Hypnotic . . . As de Vere and Muriel try to get to the heart of matters, they discover secrets they wish they hadn’t . . . but the reader will devour every exquisitely wretched revelation.” TIME
 
“I read the final pages in full thrall of Marías’s novelistic power . . . I was reminded too that Marías is a master of a kind of suspense that is rare in the modern novel.” —Karan Mahajan, New York Times Book Review

“Marías is the leading light of a generation of Spanish novelists . . . Thus Bad Begins has lots to say about the political and social changes that have shaped Marías’s outlook. It’s also a kind of tragedy in comic form, or perhaps the other way round . . . Marías never seems seriously troubled by the long list of technical challenges he has to tackle to develop all this. With immense adroitness, he makes sure that Eduardo isn’t simply a wronged husband or a vengeful sadist and keeps Beatriz from turning into a doormat, a hysteric, or a vamp, and thereby maintains the reader’s sympathy for both.” —Christopher Tayler, Harper’s

“On the surface, the novel is part detective caper and part domestic drama. [But] Thus Bad Begins isn’t merely a novel about specific characters and their specific scandals; rather, they are stand-ins for the universal . . . If novels can be calls to action, then this one is a clarion for open dialogue.” Village Voice 

“Javier Marías captures his nation’s long-lasting trauma . . . In Madrid of 1980, the setting for Thus Bad Begins, an entire country finds itself at a crossroads . . . Each of Marías’s characters must decide how much is worth forgiving and how much might be worth forgetting.” Washington Post

“Javier Marías has entered that rarefied space in which a writer becomes essential to society. He is a critical conscience who can express what philosophers and political scientists can’t…. Thus Bad Begins is a novel, of course, but it could be perfectly read, too, as a beautiful, savage essay on hypocrisy.” —Álvaro Enrigue, Publishers Weekly 
 
“Enticing and absolutely addictive . . . Marías is a writer of formidable skills and achievement.” Washington Times

“In highly respected Spanish novelist Marías’s new work, we quickly see that political tensions have continued to reverberate [from the Spanish Civil War] . . . Marías reveals how insidiously oppression skews personal lives and relationships year after year.” Booklist

“Marías’s marvelously idiosyncratic sentences achieve a dazzling textual equivalent of life’s endless complexity. Another challenging, boundary-stretching work from Marías, complete with a jaw-dropping last-chapter revelation.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Marías’s latest resumes his trademark themes of the quest for truth and the haunting presence of Spain’s civil war . . . It wallops audiences with some startling twists.” Library Journal

“A novel that teases, tantalises, entertains, and is easily as engrossing as anything he’s written before . . . Marías manages to tread the tightrope between a very literary fiction and an absorbing plot; the book dangles the promise of dark, sexual secrets revealed, even as it draws you into a contemplation of the wrenching dilemmas that have shaped modern Spain.” —Siobhan Murphy, The Times

“Marías is Spain’s own modern-day Cervantes . . . His style is less showy than Umberto Eco’s, and wittier and more playful than Elena Ferrante’s.” —Robert Collins, The Sunday Times
 
“A simply unputdownable psychological and erotic and political thriller.” —Amanda Craig, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review
 
“One of Marías’s most enjoyable and accessible novels.” —Luke Brown, Financial Times
 
“A ferociously addictive, troubling, seductive read . . . I was gripped by every word.” —Emma Townshend, Independent on Sunday
 
“Hypnotic . . . There’s a slow-building sense of Hitchcock in Vertigo mode that keeps us engaged.” —Lee Langley, The Spectator
 
“Magnificent.” —John Harding, Daily Mail
 
“Never less than seamlessly elegant . . . As brilliantly well conceived and emotionally profound as one has come to expect from this master.” —Rosemary Goring, The Herald (Scotland)


Product Details
ISBN: 9781101911914
ISBN-10: 1101911913
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Pages: 464
Language: English