cover image The Brothers Barcelona

The Brothers Barcelona

Carlos Zanón, trans. from the Spanish by John Cullen. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-59051-518-1

This feverish, present-tense novel, Zanón’s first to be published in English, strives for unflinching honesty in its stark portrait of the Barcelona slums that serve as the backdrop to an inexplicable crime. Alex Dalmau can’t understand why, early one morning in a neighborhood bar, his younger brother, Epi, suddenly attacks their Moroccan immigrant friend, Tanveer Hussein, with a hammer, then runs out of the bar. Alex blames the fatal assault on a Pakistani onlooker, in order to buy himself some time to find Epi, who is now obsessed with winning back his beautiful, imperious ex, Tiffany Brisette, more recently Tanveer’s flame. Zanón sharply captures the mental detritus of his characters’ fleeting thoughts, while the tortured relationship of the native-born Alex and Epi to their North African friend dramatizes the tensions festering beneath Spain’s nominally multicultural surface. The prevalence of fatherlessness among his characters sounds a warning bell for the country’s future. (Aug.)