cover image Let No One Sleep

Let No One Sleep

Juan José Millás, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead. Bellevue, $16.99

A Madrid woman hunts the object of her obsession in the wildly carnal latest from Spanish writer Millás (From the Shadows). Lucia, having just been fired from her computer programmer job, is enchanted by the opera music emanating from a vent in her apartment, and learns it’s coming from a handsome neighbor’s apartment. A surreal motif surfaces: like many characters, including Lucia’s deceased mother, the man has a birdlike appearance. After he moves out, she learn he is Braulio Botas, an actor and writer of experimental theater. Now a taxi driver, Lucia spends her days and nights searching for Botas, befriending some fares and sleeping with others. One nighttime passenger is her former boss, whose drunkenness she exploits by depositing him at the feet of vagrants. When she learns he was murdered where she left him, an air of paranoia sets in. Inspired by Puccini’s Turandot, the opera Lucia heard Botas playing, Lucia imagines she is driving the streets of Beijing and mentally transposes a map of that city onto Madrid. It’s here that Millás shines the most. “If I were your wife,” Lucia tells one befuddled fare, “I’d have given you a slap with those hands she’s got at the end of her short arms.” Her ultimate meeting with Botas feels darkly inevitable, culminating in a phantasmagoric climax involving her worst fears and the manifestation of her own birdlike nature. Everything impresses in this darkly iridescent, utterly captivating flight. Agent: María Lynch, Casanovas & Lynch Literary. (Aug.)