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Return to Book Page. Nick Caistor Translator. In impoverished post-civil war Barcelona, fourteen-year-old Daniel fills in time between school and starting work as a jeweller's apprentice by taking on the care of an elderly and eccentric sea captain, whose campaign against a suspected gas leak exposes him to the ridicule of his neighbours. With little to enliven the grey atmosphere and dull routines of the battle-scarr In impoverished post-civil war Barcelona, fourteen-year-old Daniel fills in time between school and starting work as a jeweller's apprentice by taking on the care of an elderly and eccentric sea captain, whose campaign against a suspected gas leak exposes him to the ridicule of his neighbours.
With little to enliven the grey atmosphere and dull routines of the battle-scarred city, Daniel becomes increasingly drawn to the beautiful and bed-ridden Susana, who spends her days dreaming of seeing her fugitive father, Kim, again. When a mysterious stranger arrives at the villa with magical tales of the Shanghai underworld and Kim's noble exploits there, both Daniel and Susana suppress their questions and willingly fall under his spell. An intoxicating tale of the human spirit, Shanghai Nights is a compelling, illuminating novel about children that has a great deal to say about adulthood.
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Start your review of Shanghai Nights. This was an enjoyable read. This is a mixture of a teen boy's romantic awakening with a film noir gangster story set in exotic Shanghai and the fallout of Franco's civil war. All set in Barcelona during the second world war. The thing I like about Marse is his vivid description of the poor people of Barcelona. These peop Wow. These people live off the pages. The captain, who struggles with reality hires Daniel to make a drawing of Susana, a sickly teen girl suffering from tuberculosis.
She lives with her mother and like Daniel, has "lost" her father. The reason for the drawing? The captain wants to shut down a local smokestack which he feels is causing the sickness in the girl. The romance blossoms but enter a exotic kimono clad character, Forquat, who has news of Susana's "missing" father. Forquat delves into the film noir story complete with a vendetta, seedy gangsters and a china doll woman. A real page turner.
So if you want a little escapism, written by a master story teller, then you will like this book. View all 7 comments. Took me a year to finish. Either because I'm too thick, it's not very good or a little of both. Feb 03, Ro rated it really liked it. Some wonderfully feverish and exact prose. Narrated from the perspective of a 14 yr old boy who spends his mornings chaperoning a basket-case around the city and his afternoons sketching a consumptive girl in her humid conservatory.
I found these stories more engrossing than the frame narrative, and was a Some wonderfully feverish and exact prose. I found these stories more engrossing than the frame narrative, and was always a little wistful when we reverted to grubby Barcelona my primary impression of the city given the preoccupation on gas leaks and the lecherous chimney.
A slim read. Searching in the internet about good Spanish contemporary literature some time ago, I had noticed among others, two writers with the same name, Juan. Goytisolo and Marse. I read them both since then, first Goytisolo's book, Marks of Identity which was quite demanding one and now this one which was pretty easier reading. Both of them had the common characteristic, set the years after the civil war and more or less, the affects had the war on people. I can say I liked them both without claim that Searching in the internet about good Spanish contemporary literature some time ago, I had noticed among others, two writers with the same name, Juan.
I can say I liked them both without claim that I 'm impressed. Maybe I did wrong choices on books and I can't appreciate the authors value through them.
But their translated bibliography is limited to books in my language so I hadn't enough choices. Maybe I 'll give it a try in the future for a second chance View all 3 comments. A charming and melancholy story of growing up on the streets of Barcelona after the Spanish civil war. The people are poor and desperate but richly drawn, ranging from exiled soldiers to drunk widows to terminally ill children.
We are right there with the adolescent Daniel as he seeks refuge from this harsh reality in fantasy world conjured up by a damaged and charismatic artist. I read this in English translation, and the language at times was clunky and graceless, which I think had more to do A charming and melancholy story of growing up on the streets of Barcelona after the Spanish civil war.
I read this in English translation, and the language at times was clunky and graceless, which I think had more to do with the translator than with the story. Probably a phenomenal read in the original Spanish. I liked this book because of the various inter-textual references, and because it had a good story line. It is interesting to analyze the book in it's post modern world during the time of Franco en the 40's in Barcelona, Spain.
I didn't like the ending not because it wasn't good, but because it wasn't a happy ending. I felt no closure. It would be good to pick apart for a Spanish Literature class and especially compare the protagonist to the author, Juan Marse. Mar 26, Connor Bye added it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
So much happened in the last quarter of the book that it felt as though it really should have been filled out into a second half at least. I never got that immediate feeling of time having past before the long awaited reunion in the last few pages, and it would have hit me a lot more personally, I think, if I had.
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Juan Marsé: El embrujo de Shanghai (Shanghai Nights)