Books by Margaret Jull Costa

THE INFATUATIONS by Javier Marías
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 15, 2013

"Blindingly intelligent, engagingly accessible—it seems there's nothing Marías can't make fiction do. No wonder he's perennially mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate."
An apparently random street murder sparks musings on shades of guilt and the mutability of truth in the distinguished Spanish writer's latest (Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
SEVEN HOUSES IN FRANCE by Bernardo Atxaga
Released: Sept. 4, 2012

"Like Heart of Darkness, with which similarities abound, this narrative is both tragic and traumatic."
The title alludes to the brutal exploitation of rubber-tappers in the early-20th-century Congo, for Capt. Lalande Biran of the Belgian Force Publique has promised his Parisian wife seven houses with the proceeds of his licit and illicit dealings. Read full book review >
CAIN by José Saramago
Released: Oct. 4, 2011

"A pleasing, elegantly written allegory."
Why would a dedicated communist and atheist turn to the Bible as the theme for his final novel? Read full book review >
THE LAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 23, 2011

"More effective as an indictment of colonial war than a psychological study."
This semi-autobiographical novel about Portugal's war in Angola was originally published in 1979. Read full book review >
SMALL MEMORIES by José Saramago
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 11, 2011

"A nonfictional footnote to a brilliant career in fiction."
A slim, elliptical, often poetic memoir by the late Portuguese winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read full book review >
PIRATES OF THE LEVANT by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 2, 2010

"First-rate entertainment, from one of the masters."
Heaving bosoms and hyperbolic derring-do abound in this sixth volume of the acclaimed Spanish author's series of period swashbucklers (The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet, 2009, etc.). Read full book review >
THE CAVALIER IN THE YELLOW DOUBLET by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
THRILLERS
Released: Sept. 3, 2009

"Lightweight, pleasant and unobjectionable."
Pérez-Reverte (The King's Gold, 2008, etc.) returns to familiar territory in 17th-century Spain, dispatching Captain Diego Alatriste for a fifth round of swordplay, gamesmanship and swashbuckling romance. Read full book review >
THE FAT MAN AND INFINITY by António Lobo Antunes
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

"An exemplary work of writerly autobiography."
Lively, wholly enjoyable memoir by prolific Portuguese novelist Antunes (What Can I Do When Everything's on Fire?, 2008, etc.). Read full book review >
DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS by José Saramago
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 6, 2008

"Simultaneously, we may sense we hear the voice of a great artisan who may not have shown us the last of his creations; who instead whispers his promise: Not just yet, there's more to be told."
When Portugal's José Saramago received the 1998 Nobel Prize, it seemed a fitting climactic acknowledgement of a brilliant career of a stubbornly independent genius who—like Tolstoy and Verdi and Picasso in their times, the late Saul Bellow and the ever underrated Hortense Calisher in our own—had demonstrated unimpaired creative power well into old age. Read full book review >
THE KING’S GOLD by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Released: Aug. 14, 2008

"For all the author's customary elegance, this is one of the weaker novels in the series."
The fourth in Pérez-Reverte's series of five historicals about the Spanish Captain Alatriste (The Sun Over Breda, 2007, etc.) is long on ambiance but short on plot. Read full book review >
BRIDA by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 2008

"This patchy mélange of vaguely Gnostic sounding aphorisms and not much action—climaxing with a BYOB witch-initiation party—will mostly appeal to Coelho's diehard devotees."
New Age savant Coelho (The Witch of Portobello, 2007, etc.) whitewashes witchcraft. Read full book review >
THE MAIAS by Eça de Queirós
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 30, 2007

"Slow-moving and elaborate, by modern tastes: but a founding work of modern Portuguese literature, hailed by José Saramago as a masterwork."
A 19th-century Portuguese epic is finally put into readable modern English, revealing a strange tale of decline and fall. Read full book review >
THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 22, 2007

"A disappointing rehash of pretty conventional spirituality."
Coelho (The Devil and Miss Prym, 2006, etc.) returns to his favored (and incredibly successful) territory of spiritual questing in this tedious account of a young woman's ascendancy as a guru. Read full book review >
SEEING by José Saramago
THRILLERS
Released: April 10, 2006

"Very nearly equal to the magnificent Blindness: another invaluable gift from a matchless writer."
Passive political defiance stirs up a whirlwind of intrigue, repression and bureaucratic insanity in the 1998 Nobel laureate's 12th translated novel. Read full book review >
THE ZAHIR by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

"One final gem of wisdom: "It is always important to know when something has reached its end." The Zahir ends on page 298. You're welcome."
On the road again—to spiritual and sexual fulfillment, as promised by the megabestselling Brazilian author of The Alchemist . Read full book review >
YOUR FACE TOMORROW by Javier Marías
THRILLERS
Released: June 24, 2005

"Not the easiest reading, but should find its fans among intrepid English-speakers undaunted by works in translation. "
Dense, acrobatic stream-of-consciousness exploring the political and personal ramifications of the violation of a confidence, by Spanish novelist Marias (The Man of Feeling, 2003, etc.). Read full book review >
BORGES AND THE ETERNAL ORANGUTANS by Luis Fernando Verissimo
THRILLERS
Released: May 31, 2005

"Think Dan Brown is the craftiest cryptographer in town? Nevermore."
Murder at an Edgar Allan Poe symposium pairs a modest, middle-aged scholar with his aging idol, in an exquisite feat of literary legerdemain by Brazil's best-selling writer. Read full book review >
THE DOUBLE by José Saramago
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

"Nevertheless, it's clearly the work of a great writer, whose entire oeuvre eloquently dramatizes the paradox (memorably stated by Maria de Paz) that "Chaos is only order waiting to be deciphered." "
The theme of shared identity, treated by such masters as Poe, Stevenson, and Dostoevsky, animates the 1998 Nobel winner's latest. Read full book review >
ELEVEN MINUTES by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 2004

"Down-to-earth dialogue and detail about classy whoring: one of Coelho's strongest."
The Brazilian Coelho, whose inspirational fables have sold about 50 million copies in 150 countries in 57 languages, at times persuades reviewers with his talent but often is seen as gucky and spiritually challenged. Read full book review >
THE YELLOW RAIN by Julio Llamazares
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

"Little plot, and somewhat static, but suffused with a poetic intensity that rivets the reader's attention to the page: a fine introduction to the work of a very accomplished novelist."
An old man awaits his solitary death in an abandoned village in Spain's Pyrenees Mountains: a limpid 1998 novel, its Spanish author's first to appear in English translation. Read full book review >
THE MAN OF FEELING by Javier Marías
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 30, 2003

"It's a resonant enigma, deftly explored in an elusive text that's a revealing introduction to and gloss on Marías's richer, even more puzzling subsequent fiction."
Marías (Dark Back of Time, 2001, etc.) exhaustively analyzes a "reasonably famous" operatic tenor's inchoate infatuation with a married woman he scarcely knows. Read full book review >
WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT by Paulo Coelho
Released: March 1, 2003

"Feeble."
Brazilian Coelho (renowned for The Alchemist, 1993) has sold over 35 million copies worldwide and been translated into 54 languages. His latest may end up in the same enviable boat. Read full book review >
THE CAVE by José Saramago
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

"We'll say it again: Saramago is the finest living novelist, bar none."
Far from resting on his laurels, Portugal's 1998 Nobel laureate, now 80, brings us yet another ruefully comic and disturbing allegorical tale—a worthy companion to its superlative immediate predecessors Blindness (1998) and All the Names (2000). Read full book review >
THE PAINTER OF BIRDS by Lídia Jorge
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2001

"Saramago himself has praised The Painter of Birds, and it's easy to see why."
A lyrical memory novel—the eighth by a Portuguese writer who recently shared a literary prize with Nobel laureate José Saramago—consists of its unnamed narrator's fragmented remembrance of, and speculations about, her vagrant father. Read full book review >
HUNTING THE LAST WILD MAN by Angela Vallvey
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2001

"Funny, fresh, and briskly written: a good start by a quick study."
A raucous debut by Spanish author Vallvey, with Gypsies, jewel thieves, morticians, and sibling rivalry (female variant) all mixed into one palette like so many shades of lurid crimson. Read full book review >
THE TRAGEDY OF THE STREET OF FLOWERS by Eça de Queiroz
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 6, 2000

"A significant addition to a magnificent—and still inexplicably underrated—body of work."
A previously unpublished novel, not quite completed before the death of the great Portuguese realist (1845–1900), that appeared in Portugal in 1980, over the objections of Eça's heirs. Read full book review >
ALL THE NAMES by José Saramago
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

"Mischievous, saturnine, and commandingly eloquent fiction. "
The resonant themes of identity and autonomy are examined with keen precision and rich humor in the Portuguese Nobel laureate's most recent (1997) fiction, a novel that compares very interestingly with Saramago's fascinating The History of the Siege of Lisbon (1997). Read full book review >
SÉBASTIEN ROCH by Octave Mirbeau
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 24, 2000

"Mirbeau's superbly controlled period piece is, accordingly, both a keen portrayal of the idealism and solipsism of youth and a welcome reminder of the genius of a writer who has probably always been rather seriously underrated."
The "decadent" Mirbeau (1848–1917) is best known for his florid exercises in sensuality, Torture Garden and The Diary of a Chamber-maid (this latter the source of two famous films). Read full book review >
VERONIKAK DECIDES TO DIE by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 7, 2000

" Imagine peering into the very heart of the mystical rose in Dante's Paradise and finding the neon injunction: "TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.""
A touching, if overexplicit, fable about learning to live in the face of death. Read full book review >
THE TALE OF THE UNKNOWN ISLAND by José Saramago
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

"He may be the world's greatest living novelist."
This richly enigmatic short story, published last year by Portugal's reigning Nobel laureate (Blindness, 1998, etc.), is a mischievous and thoughtful satire on ruling elites and bold dreamers, cast in the form of revisionist fairy-tale. Read full book review >
THE FAREWELL ANGEL by Carmen Martín Gaite
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 16, 1999

"A Proustian journey into the interior, a dazzling psychodrama—and, arguably, one of the best novels out of Spain in recent decades."
This remarkably intricate 1994 novel by the veteran Spanish author (of, most recently, Variable Cloud, 1996) won her country's National Prize for Literature. Read full book review >
THE FENCING MASTER by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1999

"Not quite equal to PÇrez-Reverte's very best, though it succeeds admirably both as a vivid picture of an unfamiliar culture and as high, sophisticated entertainment."
Another colorful novel of intrigue from accomplished Spanish author Perez-Reverte (The Seville Communion, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
BLINDNESS by José Saramago
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

"Another masterpiece."
The embattled relationships among the people of a city mysteriously struck by an epidemic of blindness form the core of this superb novel by the internationally acclaimed Saramago, the Portugese author of, most recently, The History of the Siege of Lisbon (1997). Read full book review >
THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN by Paulo Coelho
Released: March 11, 1998

"Surprisingly persuasive storytelling."
A huge improvement over Brazilian author Coelho's last, the gucky religious romance By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (1996). Read full book review >
BY THE RIVER PIEDRA I SAT DOWN AND WEPT by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1996

"Sex and God whipped into a tasty mayonnaise."
By the Brazilian author of The Alchemist (1993) and the nonfictional The Valkyries: An Encounter with Angels (1995), a more mature work of fiction that may sell big. Read full book review >
THE VALKYRIES by Paulo Coelho
RELIGION
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

"More pap for the spiritually challenged."
A facile New Age story in which the author and his wife are initiated into the cult of angels by a band of women bikers in the Mojave Desert. Read full book review >
THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1993

"Americans should flock to it like gulls."
Coelho is a Brazilian writer with four books to his credit. Read full book review >