Rafael Chirbes

Rafael Chirbes

Rafael Chirbes (1949-2015) wrote nine novels and received the National Prize for Literature and the Critics Prize for On the Edge. ABC named him “the best writer of the twenty-first century in Spain.

On the Edge

Fiction by Rafael Chirbes

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

With a contribution by Valerie Miles

On the Edge opens in a swamp on the outskirts of Olba, Spain, a town wracked by despair after the economic bubble bursts. Stuck in this corrupt, defeated town is Esteban—his small factory bankrupt and his investments stolen by a “friend.” Much of the novel unfolds in Esteban’s raw and tormented monologues. But other voices resound from the wreckage—soloists stepping forth from the choir with their own terse, hypnotic rants about debt, prostitution, and ruin.…
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Easily one of the year’s finest and most important works, Chirbes’s On the Edge stands out as a marvel of what fiction is capable of doing (and, oh, that inescapable cover!).
—Jeremy Garber, Three Percent
Rafael Chirbes’s On the Edge is a novel for our time.
—Norman Rush, New York Review of Books
Hot to the touch–a slow roast.
Cleaver Magazine
Rafael Chirbes is a master of the kind of of Spanish literature that shines most brightly in lyrical descriptive passages and powerful metaphors. When this book finally releases its grip, you may find your lapels sullied by grubby fingerprints you are in no rush to scrub out.
—Mara Faye Lethem, The New York Times
The novel’s bleak or seamy settings are morbidly inviting, and its narrator’s sour and cynical discourses have a mesmerising, incantatory power. Even Chirbes’s two main unsavoury themes – death and money – are explored in fascinating ways.
—Malcolm Forbes, The National
On the Edge, Chirbes’s masterpiece, arrives as a message in a bottle among all the cans, rusting appliances, and tangled tackle. The fumes of the lagoon mix with the lingering sulfur of the Atocha railway-station bombing; the Spanish economy has all but collapsed. Who, or what, is to blame? Chirbes’s novel accuses everyone.
—Joshua Cohen, Harper’s
The year’s best early discovery. Chirbes trumps Houellebecq with this novel of monologues, of welter and ruin in a fallen Europe.
—Jonathon Sturgeon, Flavorwire
Literature, as Adorno once said, is a clock that keeps ticking. But it is also the best tool for understanding the world when reality is torn to shreds. Both rules are strictly complied with by great authors. And Rafael Chirbes is one.
El Mundo
On The Edge is a masterful, a centrifugal novel with sentences like sticky tentacles that clutch onto readers and suck them into a swirling, tempestuous, pulsating center.
—Valerie Miles
Utterly convincing in its psychological details, but also memorable for the beauty of its writing and rhythms.
—Colm Tóibín
This is the great novel of the crisis. The corrosive voice of Rafael Chirbes in On the Edge paints a portrait of a universe of unemployment and disappointment— the long hangover that follows the party of corruption.
El Pais
One of the greatest European authors of our time.
Le Monde
One of the most remarkable authors on the Spanish scene.
The Guardian
The best writer of the twenty-first century in Spain.
ABC
Chirbes, one of Spain’s premier writers, is at his best when fully immersed, as he is in this novel. If Proust and an Old Testament prophet had collaborated to write about Spain’s recession, it might have been something like the writing here—agonized, dense, full of rage, and difficult to forget.
Publishers Weekly
A moving, densely detailed portrait of people without hope.
Kirkus Reviews
On the Edge, Chirbes’s masterpiece, arrives as a message in a bottle among all the cans, rusting appliances, and tangled tackle. The fumes of the lagoon mix with the lingering sulfur of the Atocha railway-station bombing; the Spanish economy has all but collapsed. Who, or what, is to blame? Chirbes’s novel accuses everyone.
—Joshua Cohen, Harper’s
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