The Happy City

The Happy City

2.76 (46 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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"I feel terrible. Although he doesn't say it, I know he had been hoping the whole time that I would explain it all somehow; but I can't explain it, because I don't understand anything." These disturbing words, almost a distillation of the entire text, close the novel The Happy City by Elvira Navarro, who featured in Granta's The Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue in 2010. The stories of Chi-Huei-a Chinese boy whose family has come to Spain in search of a better life-and his friend Sara-a girl strangely fascinated by the figure of a homeless man-are divided into two separate yet complementary sections, presenting the reader with a detailed account of the difficulties surrounding their life circumstances and all the richness of an approach long forgotten by many: the genuine, as-yet untamed way that the book's pre-adolescent protagonists view the world around them, their initial astonishment finally turning to frustration as they gaze upon their dehumanized society.The first faltering steps towards sexuality, the pressure of one's social environment, the way that polarized outlooks on life can coexist at the core of the same family, those first experiences of disillusionment as we awake into the adult world: these are some of the themes that Navarro lays out for her readers in order to reveal, with razor-sharp control, the constant duality that exists between the outward appearance of things and their inner more

Product details

  • Paperback | 190 pages
  • 139.7 x 215.9 x 12.19mm | 240.4g
  • Hispabooks Publishing
  • Madrid, Spain
  • English
  • 8494094890
  • 9788494094897
  • 1,600,805

About Elvira Navarro

Elvira Navarro won the Community of Madrid's Young Writers Award in 2004. Her first book, La ciudad en invierno (The City in Winter), published in 2007, was well received by the critics, and her second, The Happy City, published in its original version in Spanish in 2009, was given the 25th Jaen Fiction Award and the 4th Tormenta Award for best new author, as well as being selected as one of the books of the year by Culturas, the arts and culture supplement of Spanish newspaper Publico. Granta magazine also named her one of their top 22 Spanish writers under the age of 35. She contributes to cultural magazines such as El Mundo newspaper's El Cultural, to Insula, Letras Libres, Quimera, Turia and Calle 20, and to the newspapers Publico and El Pais. She writes literary reviews for Que Leer and contributions for the blog "La tormenta en un vaso". She also teaches writing more

Review quote

"This author's literary talent is a natural gift (...) the subtle, almost hidden, true avant-gardist of her generation." Enrique Vila-Matas, El Pais; "Navarro dives headfirst into the embodied experiences of two disparate characters as she explores adolescence in the context of awakening. The enlightenment her characters achieve extends beyond their immediacy into the city, where the marginalization of outsiders is a line drawn in the sand, rousing in their young lives both angst and powerlessness. Harvey's seamless translation of the lyrical prose places the reader in the middle of Madrid, stuck and frustrated, pushing boundaries but hitting walls." -Reading In Translationshow more

Rating details

46 ratings
2.76 out of 5 stars
5 13% (6)
4 13% (6)
3 28% (13)
2 28% (13)
1 17% (8)
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