Hearts in Darkness
Corazones en la oscuridad
Águeda takes a walk every afternoon from her town´s boulevard to the promenade by the sea. On the outside she still looks like the confident and self-sufficient woman she has always been, but in fact she is beginning to notice the first signs of senile dementia. However, that is not her only preoccupation: Susana, her oldest daughter, a teacher about to retire, has just been abandoned by her husband. And she is even more concerned about Nora, her other daughter, who works as a security guard in a garage in another city. For the last ten years, Nora has lived alone in the apartment she shares with Paul and she has hardly been in touch with her. Despite Águeda´s efforts to recover a relationship with her daughter, Nora refuses to abandon the pieces of her life in which she is beginning to slowly sink. But Águeda, increasingly aware of her decline, also keeps a secret that is destined to disappear with her unless she tells her daughters first. The protagonists of this book are women without hope who are about to discover the secrets of their past. Women whose personal survival depends on redemption, confronting illness, forgetting and the reconstruction of memory. These are people with apparently inconsequential lives who, at some point, have approached the abyss of their existence with a gaze so ample and penetrating that they are able to witness the universe and understand it as a firmament of hearts shining in the darkness. Joaquín Pérez Azaústre returns to the solitude of an abandoned world, on the edges of dream and reality, through a sensory prose and narrative rhythm that captures the symbolic emotions of the everyday.
Corazones en la oscuridad confirms the words of José Manuel Caballero Bonald about the author´s previous novel: «Los nadadores, as a literary artefact, proposes a singular route in Pérez Azaústre´s generation, anticipating the future of a novel that avoids the contagion of realism, to becomeinstead completely self-sufficient.»
«Pérez Azaústre speaks to us of lives in time, of the contrast between the passion of youth and the construction of mundane existence and, above all, of the secret connections between different generations of the same family, as if they were cycles destined to repeat themselves or at least touch each other; as if a mother and daughter could inhabit the same myth, even in silence. And it does it accompanied by a sharp sense of dialogue and a prose that critics are destined to define as ‘poetic’: metaphorical, concerned with the interior journey of its protagonists and evocative in its observation of objects and gestures» (Nadal Suau, El Cultural).
«Above all, this is a very convincing story about relationships in which flows, sometimes secretly like a subterranean river, sometimes tumultuously like a waterfall, a love that joins from the springs of blood a group of characters that feel alone, aging, injured by their memories and trapped by their secrets. A hypnotic and ferociously human book, sown with delicate intimacies and glimpsed mysteries, but, above all,with profound and painful human truths, which can only eventually be cured by love. Joaquín Pérez Azaústre gives us his best novel to date; a book that represents, I’m sure, just the beginning of a very fertile mature period as an author» (Juan Manuel de Prada, ABC).
«The reader enters a subtle exercise in psychological intimacy, full of disquieting moments of everyday life, surprising misunderstandings and uncertain dramas from the past. A brilliantly realised mosaic narrative. An excellent and intelligent novel.» (Jesús Ferrer, La Razón).
«I have once again felt that pleasant sensation of discovering someone destined to join the literary Olympus after reading Corazones en la oscuridad, by Joaquín Pérez Azaústre, a young writer, already experienced, who seems to have that unusual ability to be able to reinvent himself with every new book. Whoever enters its pages will find themselves soaked with emotions because this is a book that brims not only with sensitivity but with love injured by nostalgia… Because, as Borges said, men are just that, memories, that impossible museum of inconstant forms, and broken mirrors that Pérez Azaústre reflects so exquisitely in his latest novel» (José Mª Requena Company, Diario de Almería).
«A story that seems told by Cernuda, a clot of lights and shadows in which reality and desire create a fable in which hotels and dreams sink, despite their brave resistance, into the implacable teeth of speculation» (Sonia Fides, Blog Mademoiselle).