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Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

Severina (2011)

by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

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Our narrator is a bookseller and part-owner of a bookstore in Guatemala. One day he watches a young woman shoplift a book from his shelves. He carefully jots down the titles of what she is stealing and confronts her on her third attempt. The bookseller becomes obsessed with the woman, looking for hints in what she steals: I kept going over the books that she had taken from me and trying to imagine the complete list of every title she had ever stolen. It was as if I thought this would help solve the mystery of a life that seemed bizarre and fantastic to me." He connects with the woman and more he thinks he finds out, the more mysterious the woman gets, possibly slipping a bit into the fantastic.

The book comes across as light reading, and it would be easy to dismiss it as a story of one man's intellectual and sexual obsession with a woman, if it weren't for the terrific passages about books and bookselling. And, if it weren't for the enlightenment from the introduction (which I admit that I never read before I read the book lest it color my reading). I hadn't read any of the titles the woman stole, but had I, I might have recognized how, as noted in the intro, the drama of the story sometimes reflects the content of the books chosen (which, one has to admit, is terribly clever). ( )
  avaland | Aug 7, 2015 |
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The monotonous life of a male bookseller is shaken by a consummate female book thief named Severina. As though in an obsessive dream with blurred lines between the rational and irrational, the bookseller delves deeper and deeper into the mysterious circumstances that surround this woman and her relationship with her mentor whom she introduces as her grandfather. The seller hopes that somehow a list of the books she steals will help him to understand the enigma of her life.… (more)

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