In the days after his assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a frantic James Earl Ray knocks around Lisbon.
Spanish author Muñoz Molina’s (In the Night of Time, 2016, etc.) latest work is not a typical retelling of an important moment in history. Closely following Ray's path but intertwining it with Muñoz Molina's own writing process, the book delicately oscillates between an author’s quest for truth and a criminal’s search for safety. Through short but dense narrative fragments, Muñoz Molina explores the mind of a killer by comparing it to his own. “A novel is a state of mind, a warm interior where you seek refuge as you write, a cocoon that is weaved from the inside, locking you within it, showing you the world outside through its translucent concavity. A novel is a confession and a hideout,” Muñoz Molina writes. Readers will follow Ray through his various identities in Lisbon, London, and the United States, during the moments leading up to the assassination, through his escape, hiding, and capture. But the reader will also be witness to Muñoz Molina’s writing process, the moment he fell in love with his wife, his discovery of Ray’s trajectory, and, finally, the completion of his project. Interestingly enough, Muñoz Molina does not seem concerned with humanizing Ray—this will come as a relief for some readers. Instead, the author focuses on understanding the novel as a mind, one that can be interwoven with that of other individuals and ultimately hybridized to create a body of work that “subjects life to its own limits and at the same time opens it up to an exploration of depths that are within and without you and that only you were meant to discover.”
A tragically poetic study of the calamity that set back the civil rights movement.