The starting point for this novel is a real character: one of the most powerful men in the world, who appeared in TV bulletins, newspapers, debates and gossip around the world after being detained while attempting to catch a flight to return to his country, accused of sexually violating a black immigrant worker in the bedroom of a luxury New York hotel.
Using this character and this event as a launching pad, Juan Francisco Ferré sets in motion an exuberant mechanism for story writing and narrative resources that do not limit him to recreating history but help him to tackle it with the transforming force of literature. It is an overwhelmingly radical proposal in its form and its basis, the real character becomes DK, the high god K, and the pages of the book immerse us in its adventures and public scorn using the deforming mirror of Valle Inclan’s “Callejón del gato”, the unsettling laughter of the Kafkian sort, the fevered gargantuan banquet, and Sade´s lack of moderation.
It is in this way that Karnaval with K speaks to the reader of excess, of the sins and the wrongs of contemporary society through its carnivalesque mask. It is a political pamphlet that launches a merciless attack on the outrages of neo capitalism and the rites of power, it is a perverse fable about sexuality as excess and as the demonstration of supremacy and depredation, and it is a shrewd and ferocious investigation into hypocrisy, manipulation and double standards of the hyper informed and therefore uninformed societies of today. The book is furthermore a prodigious novel of strength, experimental vocation and absolutely unusual ambition.
The novel structures itself around a series of polyphonic chapters in which real figures appear -politicians, bankers, intellectuals, leaders in opinion- changed into characters of a not-so-innocent story telling the tale of the unstoppable demise of an antihero made into a scapegoat for the powerful, a slapstick satire, a polymorphous evil being deserving of humiliation and derision, and a political skeleton dragged to the precipice by his arrogant ambition and the insatiability if his phallus. Karnaval is the clear confirmation of the literary talent, rigour, and ability to take a chance that Juan Fransisco Ferré possesses. This narrative artefact will not leave indifferent the reader who dares to penetrate these pages, who allows themselves to be dragged through his boundless creative potential. This was also true of Providence, his last novel: “For those who understand reading to be an invasion into the unknown similar to that of writing, Providence, the last novel of Juan Francisco Ferré, is a real treat… It is a novel of the 21st Century aimed at readers capable of imagining access into the literary sphere as sharp raids into places that are out of the ordinary, into those for which the author of the work offers frequent reasons for surprise and laughter.” (Juan Goytisolo).
“It is highly probable that with Karnaval Juan Fransisco Ferré (Málaga, 1962) has not only written the best novel about Dominique Strauss-Kahn but the only one possible… His method of representation transcends the media anecdote (the media replaces history, for better and for worse, although surely far worse than better) and turns it into a complete allegory… An opulent satire… a fundamentally political novel (without necessarily having a political agenda), but it is also a novel that looks into the ideal narrative form in order to compete with the official narrations that are devised by economists, politicians and moralists of the system in a flagrantly systematic fashion. Ferré, as he had already done with Providence, shares the narration among a succulent feast of voices… In a moment of such ethical and ideological confusion Karnaval brilliantly leads us to ask ourselves more pressing questions. Above all, it asks itself an angular question. What can fiction achieve among this confusion?” (J.Ernesto Ayala-Dip, El País).
“A satirical chronicle that unravels with all the skill of the absolute novelist, who controls the springs of action, the characters’ contradictions and the suspense of a riveting story. From slapstick comedy to meditated reflection over the collective hypocrisy of our times, it is magnificently well written and structured; this novel has an absorbing effect on a reader faced with half-truths and risky lies. The best of this book stems from its mixed narrative form consisting of political report, legal declaration, journalistic account and moral denouncement of prickly public issues of maximum relevance.” (Jesús Ferrer, La Razón).
“The author criticises capitalism and its excesses during a time in which we are all talking about the economy, numbers and accounts, and far less are talking about names, victims and people… In Karnaval nothing is as it seems, the masks that its main characters wear are deformed, they become frightening. Throughout the roughly 500 pages that make up this creation real characters are established, with well known names and surnames, and others imagined, fabled, that allow Ferré to transform reality into literature.” (Patricia Vidanes, Canarias 7).
“An ambitious and exceptional work” (J.A. Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia).
“Juan Fransisco Ferré is probably the most intellectually ambitious writer we have in Spain and the only one capable of addressing with such narrative competence “the overarching theme of themes”: our moment of culture and civilization. Ferré is also the most modern of our writers because he has truly decided (and for this he has received novelistic encouragement) to tackle the issue of postmodernity in the way that the unbiased writer Michel Houllebecq is doing in France… With profound irony he denounces all of the masquerades of the world within which we move, those of both our private and public lives in a neocapitalist society… A novel like Karnavalis not common within Spanish narrative’s current panorama, which still tends to stay within the bounds of the ethical, intellectual and ideological archeologywhich originate from the Spanish Civil War. Ferré brings imagination, story telling and critical analysis to a work that is so unobvious, so ambitious and so accomplished that it seems French.” (Iñaki Ezquerra, El Correo Español).
“A prose made up of long stretches, impeccably constructed… The intellectual density of Karnaval, which oscillates between essay and the occasionally theatrical grotesque, is what makes reading it a passionate task, although only suitable for expert readers.” (Ricardo Senabre, El Mundo).
“This is perhaps the most daring and brilliant narrative that could be written about the perversion of excessive power in our current neo liberal reality… A shining example of how we can still expect literary works of the highest quality in this country, capable of rivalling the University of Rabelais, Sade and Robert Coover (and of honouring them) as well as being entertaining, and above all, feeding the brain of the reader in need of emotions not born of the banal. The novel is characterised by a style and a use of language of the highest order… The domination of language and the profusion of humour in Karnaval exponentially multiplies its hilarity… The richness of its structure inevitably brings to mind The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño”. (José Luis Amores, Qué Leer).
“With Karnaval Juan Fransisco Ferré reaches an Ecstasy that is not well known among contemporary Spanish narrative… He accomplishes an indisputable exercise, fresh and plagued by the most unfathomable intelligence in order to create a character around which the rhythm builds as the work progresses, and which, eventually, in all probability, will contribute to enriching it beyond any merely mundane limitation. His narrative is, without doubt, more than just a fresh breeze. It is an aroma bursting with fruit, wood, and greenery within scenery that has become far too familiar, and is not easy to get over. Absorbing, just like the best Anglosaxon stories.” (Luis Alonso Girgado, El Ideal Gallego).
“Ferré takes on his task with the peculiar fragmentary intensity that distinguishes his literature, that mix of speed and penetration. The result is considerable. Karnaval seems destined to stand out for its ambition and literary weight among novels that have begun to be published in this country about our current era, that sort of narrative about the crisis, the democratic split and indignation. To give Karnaval the credit it deserves, its global perspective, its grotesque humour, its murmurings of a sad org and its unbiased intelligence must be pointed out.” (Pablo Martínez Zarracina, Bilbao).
“A literary artefact complex and polyhedral in appearance, with a narrative structure that is in no way complacent and immune to conformist readers who nevertheless manage perfectly well to denounce the nudity of those who hold political and financial power… One of the most important elements of the novel is its humour.” (Pablo Bujalance, El Día de Córdoba).
“Karnaval is the grit of our narrative”. (Juan Mal-herido alias Alberto Olmos, elDiario.es).
Juan Francisco Ferré (Malaga, 1962), has published the collection of stories Metamorfosis (2006) and the novels Return to the World (2002), I Love You Sade (2003), and Party for the Dimwit (2005; translated into French in 2012). His novel Providence(Finalist for the Herralde Prize 2009) achieved a rare and splendid critical unanimity, just as much for the Spanish version as it did for the French: “As well as being a narrator gifted with an imagination on amphetamines, Ferré is a precise and malevolently intelligent writer”. (Pablo Martínez Zarracina, El Correo Vasco), “An arteface that demystifies the new virtual reality. With an agile literary tongue: At once both malicious and full of this icy irony that Nabokov displayed. A novel that encapsulates the alienation of a new kind, infinitely more lethal than Marx could have ever imagined.” (J.E. Ayala Dip); “It deals a heavy blow to the “American Way of Life” with its groundbreaking plot: Providenceexposes America’s most feverish side.” (Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia); “A mutant daughter of Pynchon and Foster Wallace, the novel appears to be a work of an intellectual thug with a desire to fight (ideological)” (Jordi Costa, El País); “A foreign revelation of a comeback, Juan Fransisco Ferré has launched a postmodern bomb towards the world of the book. A name to watch” (Les Inrockuptibles); “It is a novel-monster, post-modern up to the diabolical… a sort of Ulysses of the digital era” (Bernard Quiriny, MK2); “The most successful attempt to express our contemporary experience” (Gladys Marivat, Tehnikart).
OTHER TITLES BY Juan Francisco Ferré