cover image From the Shadows

From the Shadows

Juan José Millas, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn. Bellevue, $16.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-942658-66-5

In Millas’s first novel to hit the U.S., he takes readers on an absurdist ride into the psyche of a man who has lost his job and ended up living inside a massive antique wardrobe. Trapped inside it after running from a cop who caught him shoplifting, Damian Lobo is soon transported to the home of a young family, purchasers of the giant antique. As days, then weeks, then months slide by, Damian becomes a ghostlike butler for the family during their daytime absence: doing their laundry and dishes, cooking meals, and fixing things around the home, and then slipping back into the shadows of the wardrobe at night. The dark and humorous narrative is often told through the internal monologue of Damian, who obsessively imagines himself a celebrity being interviewed on TV, allowing the reader insights into his thoughts and slowly deteriorating mind. “He sometimes wondered how long the situation might last. He fantasized about it lasting forever. And about things progressing, too, in the sense of a day arriving when he would be able to step out of the wardrobe and move among them while remaining invisible.” Part surreal comedy, part dark parable, Millas’s wild work brings readers face to face with the mundane facets of middle-class suburban life, while also dragging them along on Damian’s slow descent into alienation, disassociation, and perhaps even madness. A page-turner of the strangest order, Millas’s debut stuns and entrances. It’s impossible to put down. [em](Aug.) [/em]