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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781529410082

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Eduardo Mendoza’s classic novel about the birth of Barcelona as a world city, embodied in the rise of the ambitious and unscrupulous Onofre Bouvila

“Though historical in subject matter, this story of Catalonian enterprise and Barcelonan ambition is thoroughly contemporary in spirit” Jonathan Franzen

Stung by the realisation that his father is a fraud and a failure, Onofre Bouvila leaves a life of rural poverty to seek his fortune in Barcelona.

The year is 1888, and the Catalan capital is about to emerge from provincial obscurity to take its place amongst the great cities of the world, thanks to the upcoming Universal Exhibition.

Thanks to a tip-off from his landlord’s daughter, Onofre gets his big break distributing anarchist leaflets to workers preparing for the World Fair. From these humble beginnings, he branches out as a hair-tonic salesman, a burglar, a filmmaker, an arms smuggler and a political dealmaker, in a multifaceted career that brings him wealth and influence beyond his wildest dreams.

But, just as Barcelona’s rise makes it a haven for gangsters, crooks and spivs, vice begins to fester in Onofre’s heart. And the climax to his remarkable story will come just as a second World Fair in 1929 marks the city’s apotheosis.

Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor

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