Juan Marsé: El embrujo de Shanghai (Shanghai Nights)


The latest addition to my website is Juan Marsé‘s El embrujo de Shanghai (Shanghai Nights). This is somewhat different from Marsé’s normal style, in that, while there are strong elements of realism, he does have his more fantastical elements. It is set in Barcelona just after the Spanish Civl War. The fourteen-year old Daniel is the narrator. He has to help an older man who was injured in the Civil War and who is, to say the least, somewhat eccentric. However, he also has to draw a picture of Susana, a fifteen-year old girl suffering from tuberculosis, and he befriends her. Her father, Kim, has had to leave Spain after the Civil War and it is one of his comrades who tells tales to Susana and Daniel of Kim’s dangerous mission to Shanghai to kill a former Gestapo agent and protect the wife of friend. The two stories – the mission to Shanghai, on the one hand, and Daniel, Susana and their friends and family, on the other – alternate and offer a strong contrast to one another. It is certainly one of Marsé’s most interesting books and is readily available in English.

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