Such Small Hands - Granta Magazine
  • Published: 01/03/2018
  • ISBN: 9781846276750
  • 129x20mm
  • 112 pages

Such Small Hands

Andrés Barba

Translated by Lisa Dillman

Her father died instantly, her mother in the hospital.

She has learned to say this flatly and without emotion, the way she says her name (Marina), her doll’s name (also Marina) and her age (seven). Her parents were killed in a car crash and now she lives in the orphanage with the other little girls. But Marina is not like the other little girls.

In the curious, hyperreal, feverishly serious world of childhood, Marina and the girls play games of desire and warfare. The daily rituals of playtime, lunchtime and bedtime are charged with a horror; horror is licked by the dark flames of love. When Marina introduces the girls to Marina the Doll, she sets in motion a chain of events from which there can be no release.

With shades of Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro and Mariana Enríquez, Such Small Hands is a beautifully controlled tour-de-force, a bedtime story to keep readers awake.

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, author, The Woman in Black

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 transports us back to the strange, fraught landscape we lose forever on entering adulthood: one of magnified feelings, eerie fixations and blurred boundaries. A dark, deft trip to a zone where desire and frenzy meet

Rob Doyle, Here Are the Young Men

The Author

Andrés Barba is a Spanish writer. He has worked as a teacher of Spanish to foreigners at Complutense University in Madrid and now gives writing workshops. He established his reputation with the novel Los hermanos de Katia (2001, made into a film by Mijke de Jong), the book of novellas La recta intención (2002), and the novels Ahora tocad música de baile (2004), Versiones de Teresa (2006, awarded the Torrente Ballester Prize), Las manos pequeñas (2008), Agosto, octubre (2010) and Muerte de un caballo (2010, awarded the Juan March Prize). In collaboration with Javier Montes, he received the Anagrama Essay Prize for La ceremonia del porno (2007). His writing has been translated into twenty languages.

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The Translator

LISA DILLMAN is a senior lecturer at Emory University. She won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World and the 2018 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for her translation of Such Small Hands.

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From the Same Author

A Luminous Republic

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One day, the children begin to show up in the subtropical town of San Cristóbal. Aged between nine and thirteen, the children are covered in dirt and hungry. They beg food, commit small acts of vandalism, play games that don’t seem to have any rules, and communicate with each other in a strange language. No one knows where they come from or where they disappear to each night. And then, they rob a supermarket and stab two adults, bringing fear to the town. Thus begins a fearsome and thrilling modern morality tale that retraces the lines between good and evil, the civilised and the wild, and drags our assumptions about childhood and innocence out into the light.

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