Such Small Hands Hardcover – 3 Aug 2017
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'Chilling, I am reminded of that quote from Elizabeth Bowen... 'No-one can know the extent of the damage caused by young children whispering together,' Such Small Hands is more than just a scary story... This is so much worse' -- Susan Hill
'Chilling... Barba inhabits the minds of children with an exactitude that seems to me so uncanny as to be almost sinister... This is as effective as a ghost story as any I have read, but lying behind the shocks is a meditation on language and its power to bind or loosen thought and behaviour... About language, wounding, wickedness: but it is also about how fleeting and how vulnerable is the state of childhood innocence' -- Sarah Perry, Guardian
'Such Small Hands is a magnificently chilling antidote to society's reverence for ideas of infantile innocence and purity... Hatred and love, rage and desire, the violent and the erotic -- everything becomes entangled here [and] the path is set towards a shocking and bloody dénouement worthy of the most spine-tingling horror film' -- Financial Times
'This brilliantly realised and sustained Spanish tale may have been inspired by actual events, specifically the grotesque murder in a Brazilian orphanage of a young girl by her peers. What is beyond doubt, however, is its ability to creep deep beneath the skin... It is an eerie, uncanny world, but then, as the novelist Edmund White observes in a glowing afterword: 'If we could suddenly enter the consciousness of a child, we would understand nothing' -- Daily Mail
'Imagine the ominous foreboding of a Shirley Jackson story with the rich psychodrama of early Guillermo del Toro movies and you'll get somewhere close to this eerie novella... Barba conjures a world that strikes a chord with the reader's earliest memories, replicating the cognitive dissonance of childhood. It's haunting, poetic and utterly terrifying' --AnOther Magazine
'[Barba] takes us through the looking glass... A a novella about many things, among them trauma, loss and longing, but most of all about being a child. Lisa Dillman fluidly translates impeccable literary technique' --Skinny
'Rarely does a book come that only captures perceptual reality with such vigorous insight, but also gives a terrifying spin. Such Small Hands by Spanish writer, Andrés Barba, does just that... It is a slim sinister novella, but packs a lot more ferocious intensity than books double its size' -- Wales Arts Review
'Such Small Hands is a book of layered and intricate beauty, a chasm-like narrative of trauma that keeps deepening and darkening as I reflect on it. It is tender and heart-tearing, sinister and compassionate. It is also one of the most meticulous, vivid accounts of childhood I have ever read' -- Megan Hunter
'Such Small Hands [...] is full of magic, malice and troubling enchantment' --Colin Barrett
About the Author
ANDRÉS BARBA is the author of twelve novels. He has worked as a teacher of Spanish to foreigners at Complutense University in Madrid and now gives writing workshops. He was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young Spanish Novelists. His writing has been translated into eight languages.LISA DILLMAN is a senior lecturer at Emory College. In 2016 she won the Best Translated Book Award for Signs Preceding the End of the World.
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Top customer reviews
This novella is based on a real-life incident and imagines, from both Marina and the other girls' points of view, what might have been happening internally to provoke the event. As an adult, I only have hazy memories of childhood, not in terms of what happened, but how I thought about things, and Barba does a good job of reimagining the very different inner world of children. The lack of attention received by a child in care, as opposed to one with parents, is at odds with the child's need for objectification and the understanding of it, giving rise to the game of Dolly.
Ultimately, however, I was not as impressed as other reviewers seem to be, because I didn't feel ultimate recognition in the thoughts and descriptions of Marina or the group. While a longing to fit in or be admired is understandable, their perverse actions seem to imitate mass hysteria more than childish inarticulacy, and it seems unlikely that a sizeable group of girls of any age would be quite so homogeneous, as they are portrayed prior to Marina's arrival. Also, the ending seems somewhat inevitable in light of the heated prose building up to it, and is in any case not such a shock in a world with homicidal children and the novel 'Perfume' in it.
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