"They couldn’t have been more than fourteen, and yet they were older than him, as old as fossil fish, as survival, as torture or neglect. They’d become realists. Their sexuality was clearly developed, and that seemed to have created mysterious bonds among them, a closeness and empathy, like wolves that went hunting in a pack."
Fourteen-year-old Tomás goes with his well-off family on their usual seaside summer holiday, but he is at a stage in his life when nothing is the same. Sullenly detached from his family, full of confused intimations of sexuality, he is also faced with death when his widowed aunt, who lives in the resort, is taken seriously ill. As he becomes close to her on her deathbed he frequents the forbidden in the form of some lower-class village kids—casually transgressive boys and even more alien, sexually knowing girls—that will get him involved on the last day in a gang rape of a vulnerable girl. Though when it is his turn, Tomás only pretends to do it—enough to save face with the boys—back in Madrid, he wrestles with guilt and confusion. He finally decides to go back secretly, alone, to find the girl and apologise for what happened, but despite the moving scene of atonement and forgiveness, ambiguity lurks even in this redemption.
A very adult novel about adolescence written in a crafted, sensual prose that resonates hauntingly in the mind.
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"One is tempted to call August, October flawless. . . . Although this book expertly describes the experiences of adolescence, August, October is really a powerful novel about the unprocessed - indeed unprocessable - emotions of transition. Barba binds these least legible feelings into a series of immaculate scenes, at once allowing us to understand what also swirls around our own insides."
—Times Literary Supplement
"August, October by Andres Barba brilliantly dissects the business of being alive... August, October is beyond impressive, it is the real thing, a study of how the mind and memory attempts to make sense of emotion and guilt; need and regret.”
—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
"An unflinching portrait of adolescence ... Barba's psychological acuity is patient and uncompromising; it sheds light on the dark corners of the mind that very few authors attempt to explore. The depraved, selfish, and violent thoughts that drive his characters are not deviant thoughts, but disturbingly normal: his characters are all too human in their vanity, cruelty, and naked love."
—Alex McElroy, Music and Literature
"Andres Barba needs no introduction. He has his own intentional world perfectly contained and a literary gift that belies his age."
—Mario Vargas Llosa
"A story that has been described as an explosive clash between Pavese's 'The Beautiful Summer ' and the adolescents of Gus van Sant's 'Elephant.' "
—Daniel Entrialgo, Esquire
"A new Spanish great, that s all I need to say."
"The complex and, at times, disturbing world of adolescence reflected in this novel brings to mind Cesare Pavese in El bello verano . . . Andrés Barba has already shown that he can tell stories of childhood and adolescence like few other writers; he has also frequently displayed his psychological perspicacity and August, October could well be his greatest achievement so far."
—José María Pozuelo, Abc
"August, October focuses its unwavering gaze on that moment when a young boy grows up and discovers the great secrets of life, in all their dimensions . . . The brilliance of this novel lies In its apparent simplicity and its great originality: a surprising story that manages to reinvent a mundane reality."
— Santos Sanz Villanueva, El Cultural, El Mundo
"Andrés Barba first became known in 2001 and since then his literary career has become unstoppable: a critical success who has been translated into eight languages. A novel full of strength that traps and moves the reader from the first page."
—Mariana Díaz, Última Hora
"Barba, like a skilled surgeon, does not tremble as he wields his scalpel to dissect the lives of these children trapped in the bodies of adults. With an agile and brutal prose, coloured by psychological interpretations that do not interrupt the flow of the action, Barba shows us the adolescent crude world, like Ian McEwan in The Cement Garden or in First Love, Last Rites."
—Damián Huergo, Página 12, Argentina
"The invisibility of morbid feelings are a natural landscape for Barba’s prose and it is something that he has explored in various fantastic novels, from La hermana de Katia to those 'dark, bright little girls' who were the protagonists of the author’s novella Las manos pequeñas . . . The structure of August, October is classic, but the story contains hidden passageways to subconscious feelings that Barba likes to keep underneath the skin of the narrative, because that is where we discover the true nature of the adolescent."
—Jordi Gracia, Babelia, El País
"In my opinion Barba has become an essential writer."
—Rafael Chirbes, Letra Internacional
"A novel that consolidates the author’s position as a key voice in Spanish fiction."
—Alejandro Flores, El Economista, México
"August, October reflects the chasm we need to cross in order to enter into the world of the adolescent."
—Braulio García, Público
"It has happened to us all: suddenly, a summer apparently like any other, adolescence comes along and pricks the bubble of our infancy. The child dies, and the man is born. Barba constructs a story of sex, death and violence and about the consequence of our actions. A story that has been described as an explosive clash between Pavese’s El bello verano and the adolescents of Gus van Sant’s Elephant."
—Daniel Entrialgo, Esquire
"Barba jumps into the sordid world of the process of maturity . . . An uncomfortable novella with which the author challenges the rules of the novel of initiation."
—Matías Néspolo, El Mundo
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