cover image The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse

The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse

Ivan Repila, trans. from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes. Pushkin (, $16 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-78227-101-7

Repila's first book to be translated to English is a provocative and focused parable about two young brothers, simply referred to as Big and Small, who are trapped at the bottom of a well in the forest. Confined several meters down into the earth, the boys endure starvation, drought, dehydration, fever, and rot. They encounter pouring rains and wolves. Weeks into their struggle for survival, the brothers sense someone above them looking down into the well. But the dark figure isn't offering help. Their situation worsens when Big starts to lose patience and a violently ill Small begins to lose his sanity. The use of the present tense captures the rising tension and urgency of this brief and brutal novel. As Big and Small waste away, they are forced to mature, and the story evolves into a complex allegory about humanity in the modern age. Hughes's vibrant translation aids Repila's lyrical descriptions of anguish and hope, and the narrative's intelligence and depth make it a gripping read. (Nov.)