cover image The Sleeping World

The Sleeping World

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes. Touchstone, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5011-3167-7

In her astonishing and haunting debut, Fuentes captures the violence and turmoil of post-Franco Spain in 1977, as seen through the eyes of Mosca, a college student whose world implodes when her beloved older brother, Alexis, disappears. Alexis is presumed dead after he was taken by police as he was seeking revenge for the their parents’ murder. As Mosca and her friends, including her brother’s closest confidant, Marco, eschew final exams for political demonstrations, their dangerous actions set them on a journey away from their small backwater town to Madrid and beyond. Mosca constantly searches for her brother, refusing to believe he is dead, and as she becomes more obsessed with guilt for not helping him before he disappeared, her life becomes desperate and detached—a kind of sleepwalking, dreamlike state infused with an undertone of violence, in which the dead and the living seem to share the same space. All the while, Marco watches out for her, and she comes to learn he has his own guilt over her brother’s plight. Remorse and the threat of violence are pervasive, but Marco helps Mosca understand that there is a way to find redemption and make up for the mistakes of the past. (Sept.)