Nominated by:

Biblioteca de Andalucía, Granada, Spain

Publisher of nominated edition:

Penguin, UK

Thus Bad Begins

Javier Marías    

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Award-winning author Javier Marías weaves a darkly thrilling tale of love, betrayal and lives played out in the unhappy shadow of history

As a young man, Juan de Vere takes a job that will haunt him for the rest of his life. His employer is Eduardo Muriel: a famous film director, sophisticated and discreet. Muriel’s wife Beatriz is a soft, ripe woman who slips through her husband’s home like an unwanted ghost, finding solace in other beds. And on the periphery of their lives stands Dr Jorge Van Vechten, a old family friend with a shadowy past. Juan enters eagerly into Muriel’s world of glamour and prestige, but as time passes he is troubled by many questions that seem to have no answer. Why does Muriel hate Beatriz? How did Beatriz meet Van Vechten? And what happened in the chaotic years after the war?

As Juan learns more about his employers, his own innocence begins to fall away. Though he starts off as a mere observer, he is soon unable to stand on the side lines, compelled to interfere ever more dangerously in the dark interior of other people’s lives.

Marias presents a study of the infinitely permeable boundaries between private and public selves, between observer and participant, between the deceptions we suffer from others and those we enact upon ourselves.

About the author

Javier Marías is the author of sixteen works in Spanish, which have been translated into forty-two languages including English. His translated English works are All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, When I Was Mortal, Dark Back of Time, The Man of Feeling, Voyage Along the Horizon, Written Lives, the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy (Fever and Spear, Dance and Dream and Poison, Shadow and Farewell), Bad Nature, While the Women Are Sleeping, The Infatuations, Thus Bad Begins and, Venice, An Interior. Javier Marías has received numerous literary prizes including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Formentor. He lives and works as a translator and columnist in Madrid.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

A good mixture of psychological novel with the central theme of forgiveness and autobiography, Javier Marías’ own universe, well framed in the Spanish political transition from dictatorship to democracy, in the 1980s. Named a Best Book of the Year by the Boston Globe and Los Angeles times. Best Book of the Year in Spain, 2014.

Related Entries