2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet Z is for Zanon, Carlos Zanon

Led by the expert hand of Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, the 2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet arrives this week to the letter “z” thus ending its journey throughout the cyberspace. Thanks to Kerrie for her idea, to other fellow participants for their contributions and to the readers, regular or occasional, for their visits. I’m sure we will all find some interesting suggestions that may fit our preferences.

My Z is for Carlos Zanón. This choice may seem strange. The only book by Carlos Zanón that I have read was not exactly my cup of tea, but my interest this year has been to spread the word on a number of, mainly, Spanish authors that may otherwise go unnoticed. Besides the fact is that Carlos Zanón is an excellent writer, despite my personal taste.

Carlos Zanón is the author of four volumes of poetry and three novels, which have received wide critical acclaim in Spain. The Barcelona Brothers, originally titled Tarde, mal y nunca, 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.

Translated by John Cullen, The Barcelona Brothers is set in Barcelona’s savage underbelly.

Epi Dalmau is a desperate man. Early one morning, he carries a duffle bag into a dingy bar in a rough neighbourhood of Barcelona. Four other people are in the bar: his brother Alex, his good friend Tanveer, the bartender, and a Pakistani man who wandered in to use the restroom. Epi grabs a hammer out of his duffle bag and attacks Tanveer. After a brief struggle and a couple of blows, Tanveer lies dead on the floor and Epi flees the bar.
Alex and the bartender plan to find and protect Epi, while blaming the murder on the unfortunate Pakistani man, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meanwhile, Epi is hunting for Tiffany, the woman of his dreams and the reason behind the murder. What he’ll do when he finds her, and what drove him to brutal violence are the subjects of Carlos Zanón’s gritty, unflinching novel, set in a city tourists never see.
The Barcelona Brothers is a hard look at what people are capable of when they have no other options, and a portrait of a modern, multicultural Barcelona.
(Other Press)

The 2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet is a Community Meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week. Click HERE to visit other suggestions from fellow participants.

Reseña: Tarde, mal y nunca (English translation: The Barcelona Brothers) de Carlos Zanón

This post is bilingual, scroll down to find the English language version

RBA Libros, 2011. Publicado originalmente por Saymon Ediciones, 2009. P. 224. ISBN: 978-84-9867-894-9.

La acción se desarrolla en la actualidad, en un barrio obrero de  Barcelona, pero podría haber ocurrido igualmente en cualquier otra megalópolis. Una mañana temprano Epi Dalmau y Tanveer Hussein acaban de entrar en el bar de Salva ‘después de una noche muy complicada’. Alex, el hermano de Epi, esta sentado en una de las mesas del fondo. Epi lleva una bolsa de deporte y se dirige directamente al servicio. Alex había oído que su hermano pequeño y el marroquí volvían a andar juntos. Un paquistaní entra en escena. Desde la barra Salva le advierte que sin consumición no puede utilizar el meadero. El tipo no entiende o no quiere entender. Epi apenas sale del lavabo cuando el paquistaní se apresura a entrar. De repente todo se precipita. Epi golpea a Tanveer con un martillo que llevaba en la bolsa de deporte. Su plan era darle un golpe limpio en la cabeza, sólo uno, para que Tanveer no supiera nunca quién o qué le había matado. Pero no ha podido ser y ya no puede parar. Tanveer yace muerto en el suelo. Epi cruza una mirada con su hermano por primera vez. Ninguno de los dos logra articular palabra. Epi se va cuando el paquistaní abre la puerta del lavabo. Desconcertado, sale corriendo también. Salva y Alex no tienen prisa por llamar a nadie. Ambos comprenden, sin mediar palabra, que le pueden endosar el crimen al pobre paqui. 

Los acontecimientos se desarrollan muy rápidamente durante todo ese día. A través de varios flashbacks vamos a descubrir lo que pasó esa noche y cómo Tiffany Brissette, la antigua novia de Epi, lo había dejado por Tanveer. Epi sólo quería que todo fuera como era antes.

La trama se desarrolla en un mundo donde sólo hay pobreza y marginación. Los personajes son violentos, egoístas y drogadictos. Ellos culpan a la sociedad (a los demás) de todo lo que les sucede. La violencia y las escenas de sexo son terriblemente gráficas. Considero más apropiado calificar este libro de realismo sucio en lugar de novela negra. Su lenguaje es muy grueso, aunque adecuado para este entorno. Carece de humor. Su crítica social está simplificada en exceso y es esquemática. Sin embargo, su narrativa es capaz de mantener el misterio y el suspense. Pero en general, este libro es muy nihilista y no tiene mucho sentido para mí.

He decidido no darle una calificación a este libro

Una reseña mucho más favorable se puede ver en Notas literarias

RBA Serie Negra

Página web de Carlos Zanón

 


The Barcelona Brothers by Carlos Zanón

The action takes place at present, in a Barcelona working-class neighbourhood, but it could have happened in any other megalopolis. Early one morning Epi Dalmau and Tanveer Hussein have just entered in Salva’s bar ‘after a very strenuous night’. Epi’s brother, Alex, is sitting at one of the tables in the back. Epi carries a sport bag and heads directly to the bathroom. Alex has heard that his little brother and the Moroccan were friends again. A Pakistani enters the scene. Salva, behind the bar, advices him that he can’t use the john unless he buys something. But the guy doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand. Epi is hardly out of the bathroom when the Pakistani rushes to enter. Suddenly everything starts happening fast. Epi hits Tanveer with a hammer he was carrying in the sport bag. His plan was to strike a clean blow to the head, only one, so that Tanveer would never now who or what killed him. But it wasn’t to be, and now he can’t stop. Tanveer lies dead on the floor. Epi glances at his brother for the first time. Neither of them manage to utter a word. Epi leaves when the restroom door opens and the Pakistani appears. Puzzled, he too rushes out. Salva and Alex are in no hurry about calling anyone. Both understand, without a word, that they can pin the murder on the poor Paki.

The events develop very quickly during all that day. Through several flashbacks we will find out what happened that night and how Tiffany Brissette, Epi’s former girlfriend, had left him for Tanveer. Epi just wanted everything to be as it was before.

The plot unfolds in a world where there is only poverty and marginalisation. The characters are violent, selfish, and drug addicts. They blame society (others) for everything that happens to them. The violence and the sex scenes are terribly graphic. I consider it more appropriate to label this book as dirty realism rather than crime fiction. Its language is extremely coarse, even if adequate for this environment. It lacks humour. Its social criticism is over simplified and schematic. However, the narrative is able to keep up the mystery and the suspense. But overall this book is incredibly nihilistic and it doesn’t make much sense to me.

I decided not to give a rating to this book

A much more favourable review can be seen at Tzer Island.

Other Press

The Barcelona Brothers by Carlos Zanon

Information taken from: Other Press. Translated by John Cullen will be released 28 August 2012. Format: Trade Paperback. 304 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59051-518-1

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.

The Barcelona Brothers original title in Spanish is Tarde, mal y nunca (direct translation: Late, Evil and Never, is equivalent to Better Late than Never) and it was the winner of the 2010 Premio Brigada 21 Award for best first novel (Shotmag, Mystery Fanfare, The Game’s Afoot). Tarde, mal y nunca is on my TBR pile. I’m looking forward to reading it soon. Stay tuned. RBA Libros.

 

Book Description: Epi Dalmau is a desperate man. Early one morning, he carries a duffle bag into a dingy bar in a rough neighborhood of Barcelona. Four other people are in the bar: his brother Alex, his good friend Tanveer, the bartender, and a Pakistani man who wandered in to use the restroom. Epi grabs a hammer out of his duffle bag and attacks Tanveer. After a brief struggle and a couple of blows, Tanveer lies dead on the floor and Epi flees the bar.

Alex and the bartender plan to find and protect Epi, while blaming the murder on the unfortunate Pakistani man, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meanwhile, Epi is hunting for Tiffany, the woman of his dreams and the reason behind the murder. What he’ll do when he finds her, and what drove him to brutal violence are the subjects of Carlos Zanón’s gritty, unflinching novel, set in a city tourists never see.

The Barcelona Brothers is a hard look at what people are capable of when they have no other options, and a portrait of a modern, multicultural Barcelona.