In the Beginning Was the Sea
Tomas Gonzalez, Frank Wynne
Death in paradise: sea, sex and a sinister downward spiral on a Caribbean coast
The young intellectuals J. and Elena abandon the parties, the drinking and the money of the city, and start a new life on a remote tropical coast. Among mango trees, hot sands and everlasting sunshine, they plan to live the Good Life, self-sufficient and close to nature.
But with each day come small defeats and imperceptible dramas. Gradually paradise turns into hell, as brutal weather, mounting debts, the couple’s brittle relationship, and the sea itself threaten to destroy them.
Based on a true story, In the Beginning Was the Sea is a dramatic and searingly ironic account of the disastrous encounter of the imagined life with reality – a satire of hippyism, ecological fantasies, and of the very idea that man can control fate.
Tomas Gonzalez was born in 1950 in Medellin, Colombia. He studied Philosophy before becoming a barman in a Bogota nightclub, whose owner published In the Beginning Was the Sea, his first novel, in 1983. Gonzalez has lived in Miami and New York, where he wrote much of his work while making a living as a translator. After twenty years in the US, he returned to Colombia, where he now lives. His books have been translated into six languages. In the Beginning Was the Sea is Gonzalez’s first book to be published in English.
Taut, uncompromising study of the faultlines in all of us -- JG Vasquez, author of the award-winning 'The Sound of Things Falling' Guardian A writerly coup de grace: short and swift, with sharp imagery, menace and sensuality nestling together in its luxuriant Caribbean setting Financial Times Smoothly intriguing narrative, with its touches of sinister, Patricia Highsmith-like menace Irish Times The lauded Colombian novelist lives up to the hype...extraordinarily evocative Independent Extremely potent: sly, voyeuristic, ominously poetic... a clever riff on the Rousseaus (both Henri and Jean-Jacques), a cautionary tale about choosing to defy the laws of nature and man, and ultimately discovering that idealism can't replace them -- Jessica Loudis TLS Haunting Metro A novel that lingers Telegraph Superb -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times (Books of the Year) Terse but poetic... J's escape is by turns beautiful, hubristic and tragic. Gonzalez writes gloriously about nature for good measure Independent (Books of the Year) [T]he novel leaves its mark... the arresting prose and complex characters shine. Kirkus Reviews Quietly unsettling, elegantly written Sunday Express A brief, pungent, powerful and unusual tale Monocle Tomas Gonzalez has the potential to become a classic of Latin American literature... a very pure writer Elfriede Jelinek, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Skilfully planted with narrative bombs... you can hear it ticking Intelligent Life Through the sparse language and the handpicked metaphors, the exotic island that J. and Elena inhabit and the realities of mainland South America come to life... lean and severe but still ultimately artistic Bookbag A fascinatingly dark character study. It is an unflinching, and pitch perfect trip into the dark heart of Colombia and hippy culture in general. It is above all a powerful debut Upcoming4Me Gonzalez's sharp and succinct delivery, combined with his crisp and startling imagery, leaves an impression upon a reader that takes time to fade Litro If Garcia Marquez is Wagner, Tomas Gonzalez is Bob Dylan Arcadia magazine, Colombia A fascinating sociological experiment...Tomas Gonzalez writes with descriptive beauty and subtle irony The Literateur Tomas Gonzalez is among the brilliant Colombian writers emerging from the shadow of Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- Maya Jaggi Pen Atlas Colombian novelist Gonzalez tells a common story with uncommon economy Booklist Gonzalez's work has been translated into six languages, but this is his first book to appear in English, an auspicious beginning Booklist For readers following J's fantasies and hopes [...], it is impossible not to think of Kafka's K Booklist Devastatingly evocative... a chilling, brilliantly plotted tale Typographical Era A truly captivating trouble-in-paradise novel... If this is a measure of what [Gonzalez] is capable of, with luck there will be many more Star Tribune The finca's surroundings, richly and sensuously rendered by Gonzalez and Spanish-language translator Frank Wynne, burst with images of fecundity... For the English-speaking world, this novel is merely a taste of what is to come Chicago Tribune Gonzalez poetically and comically captures the inevitable destruction of those who live in a world of fantasy and hubris, depicting beauty and despair by turns Publishers Weekly Touching... Gonzalez has established himself as one of Colombia's leading writers RTE Gonzalez's story of failed bohemian idealism has new power in its conscious merging of fiction and confessional... After the studious buildup of suspense and endangerment [...], Gonzalez captures the ultimate smallness of the murder, the bathos of a handgun being fired, the stillness that immediately follows Los Angeles Review of Books The lyrical, haunting story has the feel of a fable - a young man and his beautiful wide abandon their hectic, intellectual, night-clubbing life in the city to buy a farm on an undeveloped stretch of coast - while the spare, disquieting prose suggests the start of an art-house horror film. Words Without Borders
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