The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse

The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse

3.92 (751 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by  , Designed by 
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Description

A brave, original allegory of our modern world

'It looks impossible to get out,' he says. And also: 'But we'll get out.'

Two brothers, Big and Small, are trapped at the bottom of a well. They have no food and little chance of rescue. Only the tempting spectre of insanity offers a way out. As Small's wits fail, Big formulates a desperate plan.

With the authority of the darkest fables, and the horrifying inevitability of all-too-real life, Repila's unique allegory explores the depths of human desperation and, ultimately, our almost unending capacity for hope.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 112 pages
  • 120 x 165 x 10.16mm | 90.72g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1782271015
  • 9781782271017
  • 449,905

Review Text

"Repila's first book to be translated to English is a provocative and focused parable... brief and brutal... 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." - Publishers Weekly

"short, intense. . . realism is not the order of the day, but rather the distorted, disturbing exaggerations of expressionism." - The Guardian

"A story beguiling in its fairytale-like simplicity and absolute distance from any recognizable reality... With shocking precision The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse reveals what happens when two innocent individuals are dispossessed of everything and made to live like terrorized animals. Repila's language, clogged with maggots and tumors, festering wounds and leaking brains, gives this book an overwhelming pungency (praise must be given to Sophie Hughes for a translation nimble enough to turn on a dime and powerful enough to knock us out with its startling images)." - BOMB Magazine

"The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse, Iv án Repila's second novel and his first to appear in English, is short, sharp and blackly humorous... Sophie Hughes' translation renders it with a brutal force... The push-and-pull is essential. 'Small goes on dying for days, and his brother goes on keeping him alive. As if they were playing.' This is Repila's game, and he's good at it... Repila moves again into that mad, semi-religious tone, that language of icons and saints, of fire and brimstone, and in the darkness shows us the sparks of an era to come." - Full Stop Magazine

"High art, an imaginative allegorical work of breathtaking yet restrained lyric power. . . Repila's prose is clinical, precise and beautiful. His sinuous, lilting Spanish has been magnificently rendered into English by Sophie Hughes in a faultless, rhythmic translation that enables the bleak narrative to soar like an epic poem." - Irish Times

"A fantastic first novel which made me literally plunge back into my dearest memories of childhood reading" - Librairie La Soupe de l'Espace

"Here is a story conceived to leave its mark, to be felt in the pit of one's stomach" - Librairie L'Ouvre-Boîte

"This is a masterpiece concentrated into 110 pages...This is the sort of book that you don't put down, and leaves you with a knot in your stomach" - Clara Dupont-Monod, France Inter

"Suffocation and disgust are the dominant impressions, and yet... this book is a charm... Iván Repila's language is superb, it carries with it all the spells of fairytales with their ogres, wolves and evil stepmothers, but it also manages to evoke the much less fantastical universe of camps, prisons and caves where hostages waste away" - Éric Chevillard, Le Monde

"lyrical and realistic." - Zoé Valdés

"You will emerge from it changed, grown up... an essential novel... a masterpiece" - La soupe de l'espace

"It's been a long time since I have read such an impressive book. With its rich and wise prose, combination of mannerism and enlightenment, this broken tale of what makes us tedious and atrocious is also a harsh song of love" - Tendencias 21

"A vivid novel, full of metaphors and symbols about cooperation, the effort to survive, the world's brutality, and solidarity. All things that remind us of present and universal circumstances" - Revista de letras

"A brutal, Beckett-like tale. Its end is cathartic, hopeful and violent. It is utopian, and reminds us that language is the only thing that can save us: because language is everything" - La Vanguardia

"A seemingly traditional story which works on different levels of reading. A precise novel, solid and disquieting, veiling a deep wisdom" - El País
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Review quote

The language supports the story's imaginative breadth...Repila's style is witty and refreshing New Statesman Human desperation vs the necessity of hope, told via fairytale, this is big picture writing at its most imaginative and unpredictable Huffington Post A stark allegory about the experience of being arbitrarily imprisoned... Repila gives us ground for optimism in this climate of austerity... the ending of this bitter-sweet fable of our times is both tragic and a call to arms TLS Ambitious and relentless... The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse is high art, an imaginative allegorical work of breathtaking yet restrained lyric power... magnificently rendered into English... [soars] like an epic poem... This exquisite, terrifying novella is daunting and magnificent, a book that celebrates storytelling as the truest way towards understanding existence Irish Times A powerful book, with a fine twist at the end Literary Review A deeply unsettling but compelling novella with all the visceral, elemental force of myth and folktale Lady [A] collectible pocket novel... Its depiction of madness is as affecting as any I've read in modern fiction... Seek out this treasure; prepare for a knock-out Big Issue Has the unfailing grimness of a fairytale... A dark allegory for modern capitalist society... explores the limits of the human mind and our enduring capacity for hope Booktrust Beyond brilliance... may well in time emerge as one of the most widely celebrated books of the decade -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times Beautifully crafted and effective... Much of what is presented is also very dark and raw, but it is also a hopeful novel - angrily, almost furiously hopeful... very fine Complete Review 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 Publishers Weekly Utterly fascinating... a novel with a message that cannot be ignored The Bay Ivan Repila is one of Spain's intriguing young literary talents... strange and haunting South China Morning Post A small, hallucinatory jewel of a book David's Book World A story beguiling in its fairytale-like simplicity and absolute distance from any recognizable reality -- Scott Esposito BOMB Magazine! An allegory... of economic inequality, and revolutionary rage... a book which packs huge weight for its size -- John Self Asylum A vivid novel, full of metaphors and symbols about cooperation, the effort to survive, the world's brutality, and solidarity. All things that remind us of present and universal circumstances Revista de letras A traditional tale... it also demands to be read at another level. ...This precise, solid and disturbing novel shows wisdom El Pais You will emerge from it changed, grown up... an essential novel... a masterpiece La soupe de l'espace Suffocation and disgust are the dominant impressions, and yet... this book is a charm... Ivan Repila's language is superb, it carries with it all the spells of fairytales with their ogres, wolves and evil stepmothers, but it also manages to evoke the much less fantastical universe of camps, prisons and caves where hostages waste away -- Eric Chevillard Le Monde This is a masterpiece concentrated into 110 pages...This is the sort of book that you don't put down, and leaves you with a knot in your stomach -- Clara Dupont-Monod France Inter Here is a story conceived to leave its mark, to be felt in the pit of one's stomach Librairie L'Ouvre-Boite It's been a long time since I have read such an impressive book. With its rich and wise prose, combination of mannerism and enlightenment, this broken tale of what makes us tedious and atrocious is also a harsh song of love Tendencias 21 A fantastic first novel which made me literally plunge back into my dearest memories of childhood reading Librairie La Soupe de l'Espace A brutal, Beckett-like tale. Its end is cathartic, hopeful and violent. It is utopian, and reminds us that language is the only thing that can save us: because language is everything La Vanguardia Beyond the fairytale, which is smoothly and fiendishly spun... [The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse] is an extraordinary metaphor for what it is to grow up, become a man and thus kill a part of our childhood. It is also a particularly powerful appeal for disobedience Journal L'Alsace It had been a long time since I had come across such a seductive text, writing that is at once lyrical and realistic, perhaps because reality, when seen from the refined and open-hearted angle of the poet, is able to return to us the arterial transparency of its essence, literature's truth, its pure mystery... I began to read and came to a point of not wanting to read more. I did not want to get to the end, did not want to be released from the emotion that overwhelmed with me every sentence. I longed to stay down there, trapped with the two brothers, in the heart of their struggle: Big's to save Small, Small's to fulfil the task that fate had charged him with. -- Zoe Valdes It is when it is too simple that it becomes risky. The art of the fable demands naivety, but also cunning. If one is too insipid, it's over; if one digs too deep, one is lost. Yet digging is what Ivan Repila has done in his novel The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse... a fable that evades all the traps into which the lazy imitators of Saint-Exupery fall, who at least knew himself how to hold a pencil to draw foxes or sheep Mollat.com
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About Ivan Repila

Ivan Repila (b. Bilbao, 1978) is a Spanish writer celebrated for the originality and depth of his prose. He worked in cultural management and as an editor, before turning to writing with his highly acclaimed debut novel, Despicable Comedy. The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse, his second novel, is his first book to appear in English.
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Rating details

751 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 31% (231)
4 39% (296)
3 23% (170)
2 6% (43)
1 1% (11)
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