Translated by: Laura Watkinson
Publisher: Peirene Press
Synopsis: The boxer Danny is running, running from a woman. He meets the family man Robert who is on his way to Pamplona for the Bull run and the two end up travelling together.
My Thoughts: This quiet book really captivated me, and in the end surprised me a great deal.
Van Mersbergen weaves a tale between the present travels of Danny and Robert first to Pamplona and then home again at the same time as the story of Danny’s recent past is told. The jumping between the two time periods is done seamlessly but without confusion. By telling part of the story in retrospect the reader is given a sense of mystery. What has made Danny run. The different times merge at the end of the book delivering a surprise ending
I am not sure if I can tell you why the book surprised me without ruining it for you but I will tell you that the surprise was like a punch in the gut, a punch that Danny could have delivered.
For me the story was a story about the futility of running from your life. No matter what your past holds, no matter which escape you try and make, you will have to face it some day. And although the book doesn’t say it out right I have to believe that you also get what you deserve. No matter if you make the right decisions in other matters, you still have to face the wrong ones you made.
I want to comment on the translation as Peirene stated goal is excellent translations. As I do not speak Dutch I cannot comment on the exactness of this translation, but I can say that the narrative flows incredibly well. I’ve read translations that feel choppy and strange, and that is not the case with this book. At no point did I feel like I was reading a translated work. Not because cultural markers were removed but because the language felt natural. Well done!
This isn’t a long book. It isn’t a book that utters a lot of words. It is a quiet book that holds a lot of truths and a great story. I highly recommend it.
I want to thank the wonderful ladies at Peirene Press for giving me a review copy of this book.
Tomorrow Pamplona is out tomorrow June 6th, 2011.