Call it magnificence

Michael Hofmann

Ten years ago, I wrote a review of an earlier book by the Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina, Sepharad. The review was spiked, and I don’t have it, or the book, or much memory of the book. Of course, this one may be spiked as well, but I’ve now read Like a Fading Shadow four times, and I can see it will be one of a handful of books I open and start reading – somewhere, anywhere – at least once a year for the rest of my life. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Nightwood, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, Under the Volcano, The Enigma of Arrival, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, The Beginning of Spring: these are novels with magic in their molecules. They may be prose, but they demand to be reacquired periodically in the way that otherwise only poetry does.

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