Nominated by:

Biblioteques de Barcelona, Spain

Stadtbibliothek Hannover, Germany

Bibliotecas Municipales de Madrid, Spain

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Press

1997 – A Heart So White

Javier Marías      

Translated from the original Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Winner of the 1997 Award

1997 Shortlist     1997 Longlist

Judges: Margaret Drabble, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Josef Skvorecky, Jane Urguhart, Shawn Wong. Non-voting Chair, Allen Weinstein

About the Book

Juan knows little about his widowed father Ranz, a man with a troubled past: if he has been old no lies, that is because he has asked no questions. All he does know is that before marrying Juan’s mother, Ranz was married to her elder sister who committed suicide. The unspoken dialogue between father and son, however, is to become a spelling out of the horrifying truth when Juan’s wife Luisa turns discreet confessor to the burdened old man. What gradually emerges is a repetition of scenes already experienced by Juan in the course of his travels – a married man blackmailed by his mistress in a Havana hotel, a lonely woman in New York pursuing a series of seedy lovers through the lonely-hearts columns. With remarkable skill and delicacy Javier Marias builds up his colours to produce a startling picture of two generations, two marriages, and of that secret commerce between spouses which rests on the gossamer-thin threads of an unspoken accord.

About the Author

Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. He published his first novel, Los dominios del lobo, in 1971 and his second novel, Travesia del horizonte in 1973. As well as writing fiction, Javier Marias has translated many of the English classics including works by Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, W.B. Yeats, and Laurence Sterne. His translation of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy won Spain’s National Translation Prize in 1979. All Souls, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, was published by Harvill Press in 1992. A Heart So White, also translated by Margaret Jull Costa, was published by Harvill in 1995 and has been acclaimed by readers and critics alike.