The young hero of The Speed of Light is an aspiring writer in provincial Spain in the 1980s, dreaming of burning success, searching for a real story to tell. Out of the blue he is offered the chance to work in a in a Midwestern university and soon he is in the United States, living a happy, carefree life, working and writing. Little does he know that his burgeoning friendship with the Vietnam Vet Rodney Falk, a man of few friends and strange ways, will influence the course of his entire life, or that he will become obsessed with unravelling the mystery at the heart of Rodney's life. Why do people sometimes ridicule and sometimes fear Rodney? Why does he shun the world? Why does he accept and befriend the narrator? What really happened at My Khe? When the young writer's own life takes a terrible twist many years later, Rodney may be the only person in the world who can save him.
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Javier Cercas is the author of Soldiers of Salamis (Spain, 2001, Bloomsbury, 2003), The Tenant & The Motive (Spain 2000, 2003, Bloomsbury UK, 2005) El Vientre de la ballena (The Belly of the Whale, 1997) and Relatos Reales (True Tales, 2000). He has taught at the University of Illinois and since 1989 has been a lecturer in Spanish literature at the University of Gerona. Anne McLean has translated Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs and other writings by writers including Carmen Martin Gaite, Orlando Gonzalez, Julio Cortazar and Tomas Eloy Martinez . Soldiers of Salamis was a huge international success, selling over 1 million copies worldwide, being translated into over 20 languages and winning Cercas and Anne McLean the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction in the UK.From Publishers Weekly:
An unnamed narrator's life comes full circle as he confronts buried secrets and tragedy in this powerful novel by Spanish author Cercas (Soldiers of Salamis). The unnamed narrator, a young writer whose hustle to survive in Barcelona doesn't leave him time to write, takes a scholarship as an assistant Spanish professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana, in the late 1980s. Once there he makes an unlikely friend in office mate Rodney Falk, a Vietnam vet who everyone else in the department thinks is insane. After Rodney disappears during winter break, the narrator visits Rodney's father, who fills him in on Rodney's troubled past. Back in Spain a year later, the narrator becomes a successful novelist, but remains haunted by Rodney (and his skeletons) which the narrator wants to write into a novel. From the electric passages chronicling the narrator's descent into writerly paralysis to his discovery of Rodney's miserable end and then his own creative resurrection, Cercas writes with verve and brings the novel to a close in a mad sardonic swoop. Cercas has delivered a wry and touching examination of the ruinous effects of war and fame. (Apr.)
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