Join Carlos Ruiz Zafon to talk about THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, May's Book of the Month on TUESDAY 4 JUNE, 9-10pm

(104 Posts)

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the author of six novels, that have been published in more than 40 different languages. THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, the global phenomenon published in 2005, sold 1.5 million copies in the UK alone. Our May Book of the Month, THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, is the sequel. It is 1957, Daniel is now married with a child, and Fermin Romero de Torres is preparing for his own marriage to Bernada. But Fermin's mysterious past is preparing to return, when a stranger leaves him a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo with a strange inscription. The story then moves back to the late 1930s, unlocking the mystery of Fermin?s imprisonment in the notorious Montjuic prison, where he meets fellow inmate David Martin, a writer whose storytelling and schizophrenic episodes have given him the nickname Prisoner of Heaven.

Zafon has created his own Gothic version of Barcelona, where real events and odd magic combine. There are links back and forth to the other two novels in the 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books' cycle, but Zafon has ensured that each also stands alone, and can be read in any order. Whether you are already a Zafon-ophile or this is your first encounter, it is easy to become fully immersed in the rollicking adventure.

You can find more details on our May book of the month page. You can buy the novel in paperback or, if you're eager to get started, a Kindle version.

Find out more at the English Zafon website or watch trailers and download extracts from all the 'Forgotten Books' cycle at the official Zafon website (most of it also translated into English).

Or if you are fairly proficient in Spanish, you can follow him on Twitter: @ZafonOficial

We are thrilled that Carlos will be answering questions about THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, as well as THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, his other books and his extraordinary career on this thread on Tuesday 4 June, 9-10pm. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and meet the author. Hope you can join us...

FairyArmadillo Wed 05-Jun-13 18:43:29

Really enjoyed that. Carlos sounds lovely.

Omg!!! A reply from Carlos, am smiling from ear to ear!

A reminder that June's guest author is the equally successful and impressive Barbara Kingsolver - you can join the chat here, and put questions to Barbara about any of her books, including her latest novel FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Wed 05-Jun-13 06:08:56

<Birds is a leeeedle bit in lurve>

Thank you! smile

vidd Tue 04-Jun-13 22:48:20

Thoroughly enjoyed the witty discussion as much as I loved the book.

alemci Tue 04-Jun-13 22:11:50

sorry I missed this. I have read all 3 books and they are captivating. cannot wait for 4th one in series.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 22:09:07

TillyBookClub

It is time to let Carlos go and drink a large bottle of Rioja (although perhaps it is only midday in LA?)

Thank you to everyone for making tonight such a fascinating discussion, and for all your questions.

Carlos, you have been absolutely fantastic. Thank you very very much indeed for giving us so much of your time and energy, and for such generous and insightful answers.

It is a joy to know that the final instalment is on its way. Looking forward to reading it, and good luck with writing it.

Many thanks again, not only for tonight's chat but also for the splendid books.

I didn't know I had to wait till now for the Rioja... Oh, my, I've been on the stuff for a while now, which may explain some of the answers. It it this damn Los Angeles sun, that blinds you on the path to virtue...

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 22:06:44

Well, it seems like the time is up or almost up, so before we wrap it up I just wanted to thank you all for your great questions and for taking the time to chat with me and Fermin and Daniel and Carax and all the monsters in the attic for a while. It's been a real pleasure. Goodnight and buenas noches. Until next time, happy reading!

It is time to let Carlos go and drink a large bottle of Rioja (although perhaps it is only midday in LA?)

Thank you to everyone for making tonight such a fascinating discussion, and for all your questions.

Carlos, you have been absolutely fantastic. Thank you very very much indeed for giving us so much of your time and energy, and for such generous and insightful answers.

It is a joy to know that the final instalment is on its way. Looking forward to reading it, and good luck with writing it.

Many thanks again, not only for tonight's chat but also for the splendid books.

LEMisdisappointed Tue 04-Jun-13 22:04:52

I got an answer smile this has MADE MY DAY!!!!!!!

LEMisdisappointed Tue 04-Jun-13 22:04:33

grin

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 22:00:20

TillyBookClub

We've only got 7 minutes left, so do quickly put any remaining questions here...

I'm very quickly sneaking in a last question:

What was the last book you read, and what would be the book you'd recommend right now?

Last book I read was Joyce Carol Oates (one of my favorite authors) The Accursed, a tremendous post-modern gothic of epic proportions. I would recommend a delicious novel by Jess Walter called BEAUTIFUL RUINS published last year. Very well done.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:58:55

LEMisdisappointed

LOL at the flirting going on !! grin

Oh and THANKYOU for shadows of the wind, it loved it. I started Angels game, its still under my bed as i was suffering from health anxiety at the time - I am getting better now so maybe I'll pick it up again smile

Never put books under your bed. They might get ideas.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:58:11

TillyBookClub

Just quickly flagging up a question from upthread that might have been missed: apologies if you're already onto it.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 04-Jun-13 17:18:03
I just want to say that Shadow of the Wind is the first book I have read actually in Spanish since finishing my Spanish degree a million years ago when dinosaurs walked the earth.....

I'd like to ask please what contemporary (and non) Spanish writers Carlos would recommend.

My favourite ever book by a Spanish writer (and one I reread often) is Requiem por un campesino espanol (no tilde on keyboard, sorry!) and some of the descriptive passages in Wind have that kind of sad, quiet evocation for me.....

Tell me what else to read Carlos please! <fawns and falls at the feet of greatness>

Sorry I missed this one. Spanish writers to recommend? Well, there's plenty... Besides Cervantes, focusing on the 20th century and the present I would say Carmen Laforet, Merce Rodoreda, Eduardo Mendoza, Arturo Perez Reverte, Javier Marias, Maria Dueñas and many, many others. These are very different authors, and you may like some more than others. My advice is always to pick up a book, open it on the first page and start reading. You should know if that book is for you and you're in good hands on a single paragraph or page. Read without prejudice, do not listen to canons or lists made by people with dubious agendas on what is "good or bad". Use your own criteria and explore. The book you mention is by, I think, Ramon J. Sender, a spanish great writer of the 20th century. He has plenty of books, and I would recommend his series of coming of age novels called "Crónica del Alba" (Chronicle of Dawn) or in a relatively similar vein Gonzalo Torrente Ballester's trilogy of Los Gozos y las Sombras. Go get 'em!

We've only got 7 minutes left, so do quickly put any remaining questions here...

I'm very quickly sneaking in a last question:

What was the last book you read, and what would be the book you'd recommend right now?

LEMisdisappointed Tue 04-Jun-13 21:51:56

LOL at the flirting going on !! grin

Oh and THANKYOU for shadows of the wind, it loved it. I started Angels game, its still under my bed as i was suffering from health anxiety at the time - I am getting better now so maybe I'll pick it up again smile

Just quickly flagging up a question from upthread that might have been missed: apologies if you're already onto it.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 04-Jun-13 17:18:03
I just want to say that Shadow of the Wind is the first book I have read actually in Spanish since finishing my Spanish degree a million years ago when dinosaurs walked the earth.....

I'd like to ask please what contemporary (and non) Spanish writers Carlos would recommend.

My favourite ever book by a Spanish writer (and one I reread often) is Requiem por un campesino espanol (no tilde on keyboard, sorry!) and some of the descriptive passages in Wind have that kind of sad, quiet evocation for me.....

Tell me what else to read Carlos please! <fawns and falls at the feet of greatness>

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:50:53

PinkTeaForTwo

I'd just like to add my appreciation for your literature alongside everyone elses. I was introduced to Shadow of the Wind by my normally non-fiction reading brother who spent the whole of Christmas and Boxing Day with his nose absolutely stuck in your book. Made a change from him being glued to the football results!
We both share a passion for Barcelona, and now we share a love of your books. Prisoner of Heaven got me through a a couple of rather boring sessions stuck to a drip earlier this year- and successfully took my mind into another world.
I'm looking forward to when my son is old enough to read your younger fiction and I can share those books with him rather than sneaking them for myself!
Please don't stop writing!
grinwine

Thanks for your generous appreciation, and glad to know the stories could provide a door into more agreeable paths for a while. Cheers to your health.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:49:28

UnsureOfOutcome

Hey Carlos, I liked what you said about grappling with your hometown:

"all writers, at some point, want to deal with their own roots and contribute however a minute grand of sand they can to them"

Which are the other books, in your opinion, that "contribute a grain of sand" to their authors' cities? And do you think certain cities lend themselves more easily to being written about?

Many writers have added to the myth and lore of the places they lived. Think of Dickens, or Balzac, or Hugo, or Raymond Chandler or so many others than have practically invented our entire imagery stock of certain places and periods. I believe all places lend themselves to be written about, because it is never about those places really, it is about the human experience, about life, about what is your heart and mind. Without that, those places are just stone and dust. The story is in your soul, not on the tramcar rails...

PinkTeaForTwo Tue 04-Jun-13 21:48:08

I'd just like to add my appreciation for your literature alongside everyone elses. I was introduced to Shadow of the Wind by my normally non-fiction reading brother who spent the whole of Christmas and Boxing Day with his nose absolutely stuck in your book. Made a change from him being glued to the football results!
We both share a passion for Barcelona, and now we share a love of your books. Prisoner of Heaven got me through a a couple of rather boring sessions stuck to a drip earlier this year- and successfully took my mind into another world.
I'm looking forward to when my son is old enough to read your younger fiction and I can share those books with him rather than sneaking them for myself!
Please don't stop writing!
grinwine

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:46:48

GirlOutNumbered

Is it difficult to know that you have finished a book? Do you have to be 100% happy with what you have written, or do you find you could just keep on changing the book indefinitely.

It is a good question. You could go on refining and, probably, ruining things out of insecurity. To me the right point is when I know that the engine I've built cannot be made any better. Not because it cannot be better, which always can, but because I don't know how to and since I designed and built it, no one else can. At that point, once I feel I've taken things as far as I could and I sense that what I've done is close enough to what I set out to do, I lock the book and nobody touches a comma of it.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:44:37

margop

Thank you. Your wife must be a lucky lady to be the first to read your stories. I have just started The Prisoner and it looks like everything else will be taking a back seat till I finish it!
Thanks for your reply

Thanks. Writer's spouses are, in general, saints and a very patient lot. I am very lucky on that department. Hope you enjoy the books.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:43:27

salsasusan

Shadow of the Wind is the best book I have ever read. I was spellbound. The Angels Game had me transfixed too. Can't wait to read the new one - going to save it and read it by the pool on holiday.

I'll keep visualizing you in a red bikini reading that one. Oops, that was Fermin talking. I apologize...

GirlOutNumbered Tue 04-Jun-13 21:43:00

Is it difficult to know that you have finished a book? Do you have to be 100% happy with what you have written, or do you find you could just keep on changing the book indefinitely.

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 21:42:35

TillyBookClub

I enjoy what you said about Fermin being 30% of your brain in shabby clothes... he is definitely my favourite character in the series, which is why this particular book was such a treat.

I feel that although the books are steeped in historical politics, Fermin doesn't seem to have any political tendency, i.e he isn't particularly swayed by one side or another. He just seems to be on the side of humanity and on survival.

Would you say you were political, or do you feel disenchanted with Spanish (or general, for that matter) politics?

I am extremely skeptical, to say the least, about politics, dogma, ideologies and any other form or organized and controlled thought. I think Fermin conveys this, because he and I tend to think very similarly, although he is a tad more over the top than I am in his delivery. Spanish politics are, like most nation's politics, simply a struggle for control of power and resources the articulation of greed, moral narcissism and defense of private interests under the guise of grandiose and phony discourses on morals and public policy. Oldest profession in the world, really.

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