Carlos Ruiz Zafón


There's a certain excitement that rises up when I see that a new book from one of my favorite authors will be out soon. Carlos Ruiz Zafón has written a short story "Der Fürst des Parnass" (El Príncipe de Parnaso) for the World Book Day (April 23), which will be available in Germany on March 27th.


I fell in love with The Shadow of the Wind the moment I began reading it, followed later by The Angel's Game and Marina. In May 2012 I was at the Akateeminen Kirjakauppa in Helsinki where I saw the third novel of the Cemetery of Lost Books quadrilogy (The Prisoner of Heaven) on display and wondered how I could possibly have missed it in Germany (for certainly if it was available in Finnish already it must be out in Germany too). I was briefly tempted to buy the Finnish version so that I could begin reading it right away, but I didn't because when I begin reading a foreign author in a certain language, I tend to read all of his/her works in the same language, not least so that the books will be next to each other in the bookcase (but we'll get to the complicated aesthetics of shelving some other day...) I was frustrated to find out that evening that this novel wouldn't be available in Germany until October. Why would it take so much longer to translate it into German (with 100 million speakers) than into Finnish (5 million speakers)? I figured it must be some perfidious marketing strategy (bookfair in October and so on) to prolong publication like that, which we readers do NOT appreciate, by the way.


Trying to find information on this novel, I chanced upon the official Carlos Ruiz Zafón website which had a 25-page reading sample, the entire first chapter of The Prisoner of Heaven, as a free download. But only in Spanish. Now I had only been taking Spanish for less than a year and we had only just begun learning the past perfect tense, but I immediately printed out those pages and spent the next few evenings hunched over them trying to decipher them with the help of my dictionary and a Spanish verb book. I'm not sure anymore, but I would guess it took me an average of half an hour for each page. I do remember being completely immersed and losing all track of time.

In October then, the novel was due to come out while I was in Seattle for my mother's birthday. I must have looked quite desolate, for the bookseller offered to loan me her advance copy to read on the plane. I was tempted, but since I'd rather read the exact copy which will make its home on my shelf, I practiced yet more patience and waited until I came back. Since the first chapter seemed somewhat familiar, I assume I had been able to understand some of the Spanish version.


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