Dark Back of Time
by Javier Marías
Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen
Called by its author a “false novel,” Dark Back of Time begins with the tale of the odd effects of publishing All Souls, his witty and sardonic 1989 Oxford novel. All Souls is a book Marias swears to be fiction, but which its “characters”––the real-life dons and professors and bookshop owners who have “recognized themselves––fiercely maintain to be a roman á clef. With the sleepy world of Oxford set into fretful motion by a world that never “existed,” Marías further stirs things up by weaving together autobiography (the brother who died as a child; the loss of his mother), a legendary kingdom, strange ghostly literary figures, maps and photographs, halls of mirrors, a one-eyed pilot, a bullet lost in Mexico, and a curse in Havana. Dark Back of Time has been acclaimed here as “superb” (Review of Contemporary Fiction), “fantastically original” (Talk), “brilliant” (Virginia Quarterly Review), and “a rare gift” (The New York Times Book Review). “In the best manner of Borges,” The Hudson Review commented, this hybrid is “lush and mysterious.” Javier Marias, translated into thirty-four languages, has sold over four million copies of his books worldwide, and won a dazzling array of awards.