Book for August 2009
In post-World War II Barcelona, young Daniel is taken by his bookseller father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a massive sanctuary where books are guarded from oblivion. Told to choose one book to protect, he selects The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax. He reads it, loves it, and soon learns it is both very valuable and very much in danger because someone is determinedly burning every copy of every book written by the obscure Carax.
To call this book - Zafón's Shadow of the Wind - old-fashioned is to mean it in the best way. It's big, chock-full of unusual characters, and strong in its sense of place.
Daniel's initiation into the mysteries of adulthood is given the same weight as the mystery of the book-burner. And the setting - Spain under Franco - injects an air of sobriety into some plot elements that might otherwise seem soap operatic.
Part detective story, part boy's adventure, part romance, fantasy, and gothic horror, the intricate plot is urged on by extravagant foreshadowing and nail-nibbling tension. This is rich, lavish storytelling.
In 2001 he published the novel La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first "adult" novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide, more than a million copies in the UK alone. Since its publication, La sombra del viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won numerous international awards.
Ruiz Zafón's works have been published in 45 countries and have been translated into more than 30 languages. According to these figures, Ruiz Zafón is the most successful contemporary Spanish writer along with Javier Sierra (published in 42 countries) and Juan Gómez-Jurado (41).