Berta-Isla
2020 Longlist

Berta Isla

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

Berta Isla and Tomás Nevinson meet in Madrid. Young and in love, they quickly decide to spend their lives together – never suspecting that they will grow to be total strangers, both living under the shadow of disappearances.

Tomás, half-Spanish and half-English, has an extraordinary gift for languages and accents. Leaving Berta to study at Oxford, he catches the interest of a certain government agency, and its mysterious agent, Bertram Tupra. Tomás is determined to evade the agent’s attentions but his fate is sealed by an escalating series of events that will affect the rest of his life – and that of his beloved Berta. Finishing his time at Oxford, he returns to Madrid to marry her, already knowing that the life they planned has been lost forever.

About the Author

Javier Marías is a Spanish author, translator, and columnist. He is one of Spain’s most celebrated novelists, and his work has been translated into over 40 languages including English. He has received numerous literary prizes including the International Dublin Literary Award in 1997 for A Heart So White and the Prix Formentor in 2013. Javier Marías lives and works in Madrid.

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Javier
Marías

Javier Marías is the author of sixteen works in Spanish, which have been translated into forty-two languages including English. His translated English works are All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, When I Was Mortal, Dark Back of Time, The Man of Feeling, Voyage Along the Horizon, Written Lives, the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy (Fever and Spear, Dance and Dream and Poison, Shadow and Farewell), Bad Nature, While the Women Are Sleeping, The Infatuations, Thus Bad Begins and, Venice, An Interior. Javier Marías has received numerous literary prizes including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Formentor. He lives and works as a translator and columnist in Madrid.

Javier Marías is the author of sixteen works in Spanish, which have been translated into forty-two languages including English. His translated English works are All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, When I Was Mortal, Dark Back of Time, The Man of Feeling, Voyage Along the Horizon, Written Lives, the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy (Fever and Spear, Dance and Dream and Poison, Shadow and Farewell), Bad Nature, While the Women Are Sleeping, The Infatuations, Thus Bad Begins and, Venice, An Interior. Javier Marías has received numerous literary prizes including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Formentor. He lives and works as a translator and columnist in Madrid.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Margaret
Jull Costa

Margaret Elisabeth Jull Costa (born 2 May 1949) is a British translator of Portuguese- and Spanish-language fiction and poetry, including the works of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Paulo Coelho, Bernardo Atxaga, Carmen Martín Gaite, Javier Marías, and José Régio. She has won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize more times than any other translator.

Margaret Elisabeth Jull Costa (born 2 May 1949) is a British translator of Portuguese- and Spanish-language fiction and poetry, including the works of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Paulo Coelho, Bernardo Atxaga, Carmen Martín Gaite, Javier Marías, and José Régio. She has won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize more times than any other translator.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Berta Isla is a complex and layered novel. It offers an exploitative psychological story of the wedding of Berta Isla and her charming husband Tomás Nevinson, as well as an unexpected approach to a spy novel. Berta Isla and Tomás meet at school and become a couple. Tomás is Anglo-Spanish and has a special talent for languages. He gets recruited by MI6 during his studies at Oxford. He returns to Madrid as an embassy employee without Berta. Suspecting his double life, we get typical Marías ingredients: waiting, uncertainty, self-deception and not  knowing one another. The novel is written in a beautiful style using winding sentences. The atmospheric setting in time, the psychological observations and the meandering rhythm of the story enchanting.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Country
Spain
Original Language
Spanish
Publisher
Hamish Hamilton Ltd.
Translator
Margaret Jull Costa
Translation
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

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