“[A] translucent novel of passion, illusion and social class….slyly witty and luminous.”
—Francine Prose in O, The Oprah Magazine
“Mario, a bureaucrat in a provincial Spanish town, suspects that his pampered, emotionally unstable wife has been replaced by an impostor, one who is more accommodating and affectionate than his real spouse. The setup is delicious half borscht-belt joke, half Beckett…Mario’s contortions to win and keep Blanca feigning interest in avant-garde culture, skipping work to clean and cook for her, and watching his every move offer a wry, fresh take on the games people play in order to keep love alive.”
--Daniel Nemet-Nejat

by Antonio Munoz Molina
Published in 2007 by Other Press

During working hours, Mario is a dutiful bureaucrat, scrupulously earning his paycheck as an employee of the provincial Spanish town where he lives. But when he walks through the door of his apartment, he is transformed into the impassioned lover of Blanca, the beautiful, inscrutable wife he saved from the brink of personal crisis. For the love of Blanca, Mario eats sushi and carpaccio, nods in feigned understanding at experimental films, sits patiently through long conversations with her avant-garde friends, and conceals his disgust at shocking art exhibits.

Then, little by little, a strange and ominous threat begins to weigh on the marriage.

How can love survive its own disappearance? The desperate answer that Antonio Muñoz Molina proposes in this short, circular novella is a model of literary strategy and style, a splendid homage to Flaubert.

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