El cuarto de las estrellas

The Star-Studded Room | Siruela, 2014

» Café Gijon 2013 Novel Award

El cuarto de las estrellas is the story of a man who suffers an accident that makes his recent memories vanish without a trace, while his more distant recollections reemerge with puzzling clarity.

He then decides to retreat to the scene of his childhood to pen a novel woven from the fabric of these memories, and sets up home in La Araña, a dusty, claustrophobic, drab spot in the middle of nowhere, a small town hemmed in by the sea and an omnipresent cement factory. The narrator slowly pieces together his family history, a story shrouded in silence, secrets and surrender that took a sudden lucky (or unfortunate) turn thanks to the winning ticket in the 1973 Christmas lottery. The father invites his family on a trip to New York, the promised land of all film-lovers. However, following the death of his closest friend, neither the holiday nor his newfound wealth can prevent him from sliding headfirst into a self-obsession akin to a living death.

Family secrets are the cornerstone of a novel in which the author has breathed life into ghosts that are so real the reader will end up wondering if it is we who are the ghosts, banished from the homeland to which we long to return, the past, even though it is home to nothing but dust and bones.

* The judging panel was much taken with «an unusual novel, which goes beyond traditional realism with expertly wrought images and situations that cloak the story in an extraordinarily suggestive atmosphere. In short, the sparkling tale of a man who, against a bleak landscape, delves deep into his father’s story in search of his own true self.» *