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The Islands [Paperback]

Carlos Gamerro , Jimmy Burns , Ian Barnett
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.00
Price: 9.28 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

19 April 2012
Buenos Aires, 1992. Hacker Felipe Felix is summoned to the vertiginous twin towers of magnate Fausto Tamerlan and charged with finding the witnesses to a very public crime. Rejecting the mission is not an option. After a decade spent immersed in drugs and virtual realities, trying to forget the freezing trench in which he passed the Falklands War, Felix is forced to confront the city around him - and realises to his shock that the war never really ended. A detective novel, a cyber-thriller, an inner-city road trip and a war memoir, The Islands is a hilarious, devastating and dizzyingly surreal account of a history that remains all too raw.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 548 pages
  • Publisher: And Other Stories (19 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908276088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908276087
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Gamerro's powers of invention draw readers on, anxious to know where we will be taken next - In Gamerro's impressive book, the illusion of "the islands" serves as a blind spot in the Argentinian imagination that blots out the ghastly reality that persists around them" - Nick Caistor, The Guardian -----'Gamerro picks history's what-the-fuck moments, which when found in fiction are so strange as to knock the reader momentarily out of the imaginary world.' Ben Bollig, The Guardian ----- 'Exhilarating, inventive and consistently absorbing.' Stuart Evers ----- 'Gamerro's balls-out novel is a delirious mash-up ... [His] gross, bleakly funny, violence-saturated satire of a psychologically damaged society hung up on impossible myth relies on epic hyperbole, masterfully translated by Ian Barnett. There is enough invention here for four novels, but this multilayered nightmare vision is deftly rendered and devastating in its intensity.' Siobhan Murphy, Metro ----- 'A danger-laden, mind-bending and ultimately redemptive quest. [...] There are more ideas here than most writers would fit in 10 novels.' Tom Bunstead, The Independent on Sunday -------'A bravura piece of writing, with a cinematic sweep, sustained drama, and pitch-perfect dialogue.' Martin Schifino, The Independent --------- 'A generational, landmark novel' Andrew Graham Yooll, BBC Radio 3, Sunday Feature: Malvinas Madness ------'A genre-bending book' Anne McElvoy, BBC Radio 3, Night Waves

About the Author

Carlos Gamerro, born in 1962, is one of the most highly regarded contemporary Argentine writers. He has written four novels, including The Islands and An Open Secret (Pushkin Press). He adapted The Islands for a major theatrical production in 2011. Gamerro, who was brought up bilingually in English and Spanish, has translated Shakespeare, Auden, and Harold Bloom, and lectures in 20th century literature in Buenos Aires. --------- Ian Barnett hails originally from the Wirral, and lived in Oxford, Paris, Barcelona and Managua before moving to Buenos Aires in 1991. Since then he has translated many of the River Plate's leading writers. He has already translated Caarlos Gamerro's An Open Secret.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A baroque novel 29 Jun 2013
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The year is 1992 and Felipe Félix, an almost house-bound computer hacker, is summoned to investigate a murder committed in the sinister mirrored towers of Señor Tamerlán. Félix is a veteran of the Falklands war and ten years on the Malvinas still haunts his dreams and waking life. "The Islands" is part war novel, part dystopian thriller and the reader is never sure what is reality and what is the product of Félix's damaged mind.

Gamerro paints a vivid picture of both Buenos Aires and the Malvinas, creating nightmarish landscapes peopled with ridiculously grotesque characters. The human failings which led to the war and the horrific price paid by the combatants are savagely described and at times "The Islands" is very moving.

I did enjoy Gamerro's writing but the intensity hardly ever lets up and as one hectic set piece followed another I often felt weary. At times "The Islands" did feel overindulgent and, on reading that Gamerro had cut about a hundred pages for the English translation, I have to admit that I was glad it wasn't longer.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated, over-hyped, but OK 22 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up by chance in an Amnesty bookshop in late June - before it was officially published. The fact that it was already on sale there suggests that, like me, the person who had been sent it/read it had thought it not all it was cracked up to be.

I was genuinely disappointed by this book. It is far too long, verbose (God knows what it must have been like originally, Gamerro says he has cut over 100 pages off the original), repetitive as to the protagonist's doped out time, and could have covered the same material in about half of the space. I say this as someone who reads a huge amount of Latin American fiction, loves Argentine fiction (arlt, Borges, Bioy Casares, etc.). But this is not a patch on any of it, and I found it extremely disappointing.

Having said that, it's every bit as good as most contemporary British fiction, and you could do worse. It has some good descriptions of the Malvinas, and of its impact on Argentine society in the late 80s/early 90s. Just don't expect a great novel, and don't believe the reviews. Nick Caistor's in particular is a big disappointment, he must know this is not a patch on much of the great work that he has translated (including RobertoA rlt's great novel, The Seven Madmen - which, interestingly, is about a third of the length of this, and deals with similar themes for its time.....)
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