Translated from the Galician by Jonathan Dunne
"Luminous Rivas is a superb stylist and he presents his view of Spain's grim past through small, sharp dots of light, in the manner of a pointillist. He succeeds in conveying through language the waves of the Atlantic breaking against the coast of Galicia." The Washington Post
Manuel Rivas has been heralded as one of the brightest in a new wave of Spanish writers influenced by Spanish and European traditions, as well as by the history of Spain over the past seventy years. A bestseller in Spain, The Carpenter's Pencil has been published in nine countries.
Set in the dark days of the Spanish Civil War, The Carpenter's Pencil charts the linked destinies of anti-fascist Dr. Daniel Da Barca who, like his Biblical namesake, cheats death in Franco's prisons; Herbal, the illiterate Franco-supporter and Da Barca's shadow and tail; the unnamed painter with the carpenter's pencil; Marisa Mallo, loved by both Da Barca and Herbal; Pepe Sanchez, the bolero singer; "Genghis Khan," the wrestler; Dombodan the Kid, the innocent; Mother Izarne, the nun; and the legend of the estrangement of the two sisters, Life and Death. All are bound by the events of the Civil War-the artists and the peasants alike-and all are brought to life, in Rivas' skillful hand, with the power of the carpenter's pencil, a pencil that draws both the measured line and the artist's dazzling vision.
"A profound tale of love, art, politics and the lingering effects of a gentleness and cruelty on the soul." The Miami Herald
"This internationally acclaimed novel is an elegantly composed mosaic portrayal of the human cost of the Spanish Civil War...One looks forward to further translation of Rivas' work." Kirkus (starred review)
"Rivas is a master You never know, at the beginning of a paragraph, where he will take you. His pages bloom like flowers, swerving in unpredictable arcs toward a light-source that is constantly moving." Bookforum
"He is an important storyteller because he is sensitive and has an incredible ear, which, in his fiction, is allied to great ingenuity." John Berger
Manuel Rivas was born in Galicia, Spain, in 1957, and has worked for many years as a journalist as well as a prize-winning novelist. One of his short stories formed the basis for Jose Luis Cuerda's award-winning film "Butterfly," which Gabriel Garcia Marquez said was "a perfect marriage of film and literature."