Javier Cercas, *Outlaws: A Novel*

This is so far my favorite novel in what I consider to be a very weak year for fiction.  Set in and near Barcelona, this story of a gang member and his confrontations with the law, as seen through the eyes of one not totally reliable narrator, reminds me a bit of Eric Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios.  Here is one excerpt from the novel:

Let’s go, she said.  Where?, I asked, following her: she was wearing jeans, a white shirt, sneakers and her handbag strap across her chest, like twenty years ago when we’d meet up in La Font to go out and steal cars, snatch old ladies’ handbags and rob banks on the coast.

I also quite liked “Talking to Ourselves,” by Andrés Neuman: “Women who know what they want never want anything interesting.”


Eric Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios - is cool because I've lived in Greece and visited Turkey, and it was written 50 years ago. As for unreliable narrator, perhaps TC is thinking of A. Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd?

There is no such thing as a weak year for fiction. With so many tens of thousands of novels being published, there are always more high quality books than any one person could hope to ready. Finding those books in a given year may prove to be a challenge. Plenty of mediocre novels get elevated, while truly great fiction sinks away. There is the question of taste, of course, but curation plays a big role.

And even the likes of Cowen understand this of course. A weak year in fiction doesn't mean no great books were written, just that those in "the discussion" were not as good as usual.

So "a weak year for fiction" really means "a weak year for critics" or "a weak year for the crowd"?

Am I that unattractive?

That sample has certainly put me off reading the novel. Perhaps it's lost something in translation.

Is this some sort of Beatnik novel that uses incorrect punctuation as a means of social protest?

Does any "serious" fiction use punctuation correctly these days? That would be like writing poetry that rhymes: so uncool.

That quoted paragraph is terrible! Perhaps a computer translated it from its original language?


TLS review of "Outlaws"

Tyler, I haven't seen you post anything about the new Knausgaard (maybe it shouldn't fall into the fiction category) recently-- have you read third book?

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