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The Whispering City by Sara Moliner
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The Whispering City (2013)

by Sara Moliner, Sabine Hoffman (Author), Rosa Ribas (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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    The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda (charl08)
    charl08: Powerful evocation of Barcelona's history through fiction.
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English (2)  Spanish (1)  All (3)
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The Whispering City by Sara Moliner, translated by Mara Faye Lethem While many elements of the book follow a familiar pattern, it's still a great read. We have the reporter who thinks the cops are doing a rotten job of investigating the murder she's been sent to report on and gets herself in over her head and so on. There was something nice about the familiarity of the plot structure because that was where my familiarity with it ended. The book is set in Barcelona in 1952, so the culture and the government and the markers of the time were all fairly foreign and made this familiar plot structure far more fun than it has been in a long time. Plus, the way it ended was not what I expected. It's not the way it would have ended if it had been written for US audiences, I'll tell you that much without spoiling it. 
This is part of what's fun about reading women in translation, what may seem familiar is taken to new places. 
The narrator, Roxanne Hernandez, was amazing, doing a great job of pronouncing all the Spanish names while falling back out of the accent that requires in the very next word and just carrying on. I can get by on some Spanish and even do a decent accent sometimes, but I can't transition that quickly and it didn't seem cut together. So it's the narrator or the editor, but I'm going to give credit to the narrator until informed otherwise. 
The only hitch in my translation was the inclusion of the word "monger" when talking about gossips. It wasn't misused, but it struck me as out of place due to that we don't use it much in the US. 
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction!  ( )
  Calavari | Sep 28, 2016 |
General Franco was at the height of his power in Barcelona, 1952. When a wealthy socialite is found murdered in her mansion, the police scramble to seize control of the investigation. An over eager journalist named Ana Martí Noguer is assigned the task of shadowing the lead investigator, Inspector Isidro Castro. However, Ana discovers a bunch of letters that dramatically contradict the official statement made by the police. Now she is in mortal danger; her information can expose a conspiracy of murder and corruption.

The Whispering City (originally title: Don de lenguas) is a Spanish novel written by Sara Moliner and translated into English by Mara Faye Lethem. Sara Moliner is the pseudonym of the writing duo of Spanish author Rosa Ribas and former German philosophy professor Sabine Hofmann. This is their first book together and, with their backgrounds and the premise, I went into this novel with high expectations. Sadly, this turned into a run-of-the-mill thriller novel which is not a bad thing; I just was hoping for so much more.

The back drop of a fascist government, known for their shadowing tactics, mixed with the philosophical background of Sabine Hofmann meant I was hoping for some interesting insights. I was hoping to learn about the cultural landscape and the political impact of Barcelona in 1952 but the main focus on this book was the murder and the conspiracy. Having recently read Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo (translated by Edith Grossman), which explored the political and cultural issue in Peru at the time, I was expecting something similar with The Whispering City.

The Whispering City is in no way a bad novel, and I found it incredibly entertaining and worked as a palette cleanser for me while I was reading The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis and The Stranger by Albert Camus. One of the main reasons I am drawn to books in translation is the insight into the cultural life and I did not get that with this book. The Whispering City reminds me a bit of The Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, with a journalist as a protagonist investigating murder and corruption. While it was not as dark as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I found it a lot more enjoyable but still the same thriller formula.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/05/15/the-whispering-city-by-sara-moliner/ ( )
1 vote knowledge_lost | May 17, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sara Molinerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoffman, SabineAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Ribas, RosaAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, Mara FayeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Sara Moliner is a pseudonym for Rosa Ribas and Sabine Hofmann. This book has been published under both the pseudonym and the real author names.
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