Things to look forward to: The Labyrinth of Spirits


As you may have noticed, this blog tends to look backwards most of the time, with occasional forays into the present, usually when I’m blogging the few television shows that I still enjoy. Partly that’s down to complex psychological factors, but most of the time it’s because I’m genuinely out of step with the world and what it regards as entertainment in the second decade of the Twenty-First Century. Tat’s why it’s great to have things to look forward to.

Early in the New Year, I was reading the literary delights that we’re expecting from 2017. Needless to say, there wasn’t a single book mentioned that I had the remotest interest in reading, though that could have been remedied if Neil Gaiman’s forthcoming Norse Mythology had been included as highlights of the year to come. This is Gaiman’s treatment of the classic cycle of Norse Myths, leading to Ragnarok, that I remember first reading and loving when I was about ten or eleven, so this is not a book to be missed (but when ever is something by Gaiman?)

However, a serendipitous chain of thought has led me to a pleasing discovery. It began with a Guardian piece about Spanish crime fiction literary necrophilia, about the revival of a classic Spanish Private investigator, Inspector Pepe Carvalho.

No, meant nothing to me either. Carvalho was, however, an immensely popular character, starring in a series of books by Manuel Vasquez Montalban (Inspector Montalbano was named in tribute to him). Vasquez Montalban died in 2003, but Carvalho is to return in a new novel, now written by Carlos Zanon.

Now you know what I think of this practice (the term Literary Necrophilia out to give you a clue), not that I’m ever likely to read any Carvalho books, even if they’re available in translation. But there was that name: Carlos Zanon.

It’s some considerable time since I last thought of a similar-sounding Spanish author, who had international success in the 2000’s thanks to a superbly atmospheric book set in Barcelona, which introduced the concept of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I speak of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and The Shadow of the Wind.

Before El Sombre del Viento appeared in 2001, Zafon was known for young adult fiction. The book made him internationally famous, and Zafon announced that it was the first of a quartet. It’s sequel, The Angel’s Game, was published in 2008, though I remember it as appearing quite quickly after The Shadow of the Wind, from which I take it that the book’s English translation and publication and fame came several years after it first appeared in Spain.

If anything, I enjoyed The Angel’s Game more, though it was a prequel rather than sequel, but the news that the continuation of the tetraology would be postponed because of Zafon’s increasing commitments as to screenplays was depressingin any event.

Still, a third book, The Prisoner of Heaven, appeared in 2012, resuming the chronology as a follow-on to The Shadow of the Wind, but that’s been it since. I don’t think I’ve read the books again since 2012.

But the homophonic coincidence of Zanon and Zafon triggered a memory, and I looked up Zafon, more in hope than expectation, and my reward, as you may already have guessed, is to discover that Carlos Ruiz Zafon has indeed written and published that long-withheld fourth book, El laberinto de los espíritus or, as it will appear in translation from HarperCollins in 2017, The Labyrinth of Spirits.

And that’s all I know. There’s no publication date, and no pre-order available on Amazon, but that’s something now to look forward to in 2017, and a reminder to myself to re-read the first three books at some reasonably near-future time.

So that’s something to look forward to in 2017. If there are others, I shall share them with you. After all, this is the year of the most unexpected third season ever…

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