In the Company of a Clown
En presencia de un payaso
Is anyone capable of summarising the story of an entire life in just 300 words? Marcos, a scientist and the protagonist of this extraordinary novel by Andrés Barba, tries to find the answer to this impossible question during a Christmas holiday spent with his wife and brother in law—a retired comic with a delirious and complex political career—a year after their mother´s death. With his customary brilliance in the description of intimate spaces, Barba gives us a novel about identity, but also about the family, and about humour, desire and the constant surprise in the discovery of the true essence of the other. An indispensible novel from someone who is, without doubt, one of the most important Spanish language writers of his generation.
«In my opinion, Barba has become an essential writer» (Rafael Chirbes. Letra internacional).
«Simply put, he’s the next big thing from Spain» (Lire).
«Andrés Barba needs no advice. He has already created a world that is perfectly realised and has a craft that is inappropriate for a writer of his age» (Mario Vargas Llosa).
«Barba has perfectly understood the aggressiveness that sometimes lies behind our romantic engagements and the clarity of his prose is the perfect vehicle to describe it» (Times Literary Suplement).
«It’s been a while since a writer has impressed me so much, not just for the moral focus that informs his texts, but for his ability to get to the very heart of experience» (Pozuelo Yvancos. ABC Cultural).
«Barba demonstrates an exquisite craft when it comes to showing us, within an apparently banal domestic setting, all the mystery of existence» (Publishers Weekly).
«Barba constructs a tale of complex familial relationships in a beautifully articulated work» (Fernando Valls, Babelia - El País).
«Through some simple utterances, Barba exposes the complex interior reality: "the unknown tunnels" of the heart, "the emotional hinges". And it reaches a notable level as it insinuates the mystery of the human condition, showing us that it is impossible to even understand our own. This emotional novel helps us to discover ourselves in the mirror of fiction» (Santos Sanz Villanueva, El Mundo).
«An acidic text that becomes an authentic short circuit between identity and appearence. A narrative “performance” that examines inner life and public life, truth and mendacity, without falling into propaganda or polemics. An exceptional novel that is, furthermore, an exception because it is far better than what we´re used to… that is, what we´re used to seeing published and to reading.» (Ángeles López, La Razón).
«Andrés Barba has writtten a novel that captivates the reader from the first moment, with brilliantly drawn characters and a magical atmosphere that always seems to be hiding something with a lot of tension… an excellent read… I couldn´t put this book down, from the first sentence. I was captivated by its atmosphere, its characters, the way it tells its stories, the way it reveals a small part of life and gives us the key to understanding the rest. The characters are full of subtlties, the relationships between them complex and full of corners. Full of sensuality, pain, and solitude. Don´t miss this novel.» (Antonio Martínez Asensio, Blog “Tiempo de silencio”, Antena3).
Andrés Barba (Madrid, 1975) has a degree in Spanish Literature. He has represented Spain in several international conferences for young dramatists and has been a lecturer in Madrid and Bowdoin College (USA). Currently he combines his work as a writer with a teaching position at the Complutense University of Madrid. He was awarded first finalist of the Herralde Novel Prize 2001 with La hermana de Katia. In 2005 he has been awarded the Torrente Ballester prize for Versiones de Teresa.