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Cold Skin


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About the Author

Albert Sanchez Pinol was born in Barcelona in 1965 and is an anthropologist and writer. His writing has appeared in several journals, and Cold Skin is his first novel. Already translated into fifteen languages, it won the Ojo Critico Narrativa prize on its original publication in Catalan in 2003. Look for his latest book, Pandora in the Congo, coming in 2008.


In this grim, H.G. Wellsian fable, an unnamed European of unspecified nationality is hired to spend an unspecified mid-20th-century year logging wind conditions on a tiny Antarctic island. Anticipating solitude, the bookish young man soon discovers that he has a neighbor the pathologically reclusive Gruner and that each night, the island is overrun by humanoid killer amphibians. He and brutish Gruner who has tamed a "toad" of his own join forces, killing monsters by night and fornicating with Gruner's pet by day. Inspired by the creature's ability to laugh and cry to say nothing of her perky breasts, knack for housework and wordless submissiveness the narrator begins to think of the cold-blooded creatures as human. When he tries to befriend them and their children, his efforts pacify the humanoids, but not Gruner; the hopeful idyll ends when the older man launches a last suicidal effort to exterminate the "monsters." Gruner's death plunges our hero into a rut of battle, drunkenness and bestiality so complete that when his replacement arrives, he has become as feral as Gruner was before him. Sentence by elegant sentence, Pinol's first novel offers a tightly crafted allegory of human brutality both fascinating and repellent. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

* A creepily compelling debut from this Barcelona-based author that reads like a sinister version of a Boy's Own survival adventure. Financial Times * ...a beguiling novel that explores the darker reaches of the survival instinct. The nightmarish quality is never overdone and the growing bond between the weather official and his attackers lends the book a rewarding complexity. At times touching, at times vicious, Pinol's dark tale lingers long after the shivers running down the spine have ceased. The Scotsman * Cold Skin is a superbly controlled and creepy little allegorical novel...With a plot pared down to extreme basics, and no small amount of gore, Cold Skin seems to resemble a literary equivalent of the low-budget early horror movies of George Romero and Sam Raimi...But its narrator has a lofty, turn-of-the-century turn of phrase...and predictably cruel and cunning shows itself to be akin to Lord of the Flies or Heart of Darkness rewritten as pulp-horror schlock. The Independent on Sunday

Barcelona-based anthropologist Sanchez Pinol has written an unsettling allegory about the tension between two men alone in the frozen isolation of Antarctica and their attempt to confront the evil forces that besiege them. In the years after World War I, a steamship delivers a young man to a desolate island to spend a year there as weather official. The official he is supposed to replace is nowhere to be found, but he does encounter a gruff castaway named Gruner holed up in a lighthouse. The two men become grudging and uneasy allies against the nightly attacks of foul, surrealistic creatures who in the course of the novel evolve from fiends to somewhat more sympathetic creatures defending their homeland. There are no female characters in this monster-infested wasteland except for a domesticated female monster who becomes the narrator's lover ("each new day at her side, each hour spent in observation, brought us closer together"). A gripping and multifaceted allegory certain to be savored by many readers of intellectual fiction.-Jack Shreve, Allegany Coll. of Maryland, Cumberland Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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