The Carpenter's Pencil by Manuel Rivas

The Carpenter's Pencil

Manuel Rivas

The Spanish Civil War is the setting for this strange and poetic love story; Dr Daniel Da Barca, a Republican, is imprisoned by Franco's troops and separated from his lover, Marisa Mollo. Rivas creates a feeling of optimism in the darkest of places by the humour and humanity of his characters; even the prison guard, Herbal, guilty of torture and murder, is given a conscience in the form of the painter he killed - a tiny ghost who sits astride the carpenter's pencil above his ear.

Extract

Dusk, for some reason, was when the painter preferred to visit the guard Herbal's head. He would alight on his ear with firm gentleness, with one leg on either side, like the carpenter's pencil.

Parallels
  • If This is a Man by Primo Levi
  • The Wall by Jean-Paul Sartre

Books with similar mood

House of Leaves

Mark Z Danielewski

Nominies

Ian Duhig

A Book of Science and Antiquities

Thomas Keneally

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing

Eimear McBride

The Garden of Secrets

Juan Goytisolo

Norma

Sofi Oksanen

I'm OK, I'm Pig

Kim Hyesoon

Sorry

Zoran Drvenkar

State of Siege

Juan Goytisolo

The Quiet Violence of Dreams

K Duiker

Autofiction

Hitomi Kanehara

I Refuse

Per Petterson

The Aeronaut's Guide to Rapture

Stuart Campbell

The Taker

Alma Katsu

Cairo Swan Song

Mekkaoui Said

Talk of the Town

Jacob Polley

The Way of the Women

Marlene van Niekerk

The Reverse Side of Life

Lee Seung-U

Assorted Fire Events

David Means

Mush

Kathleen Bryson

Psychoraag

Suhayl Saadi

Death Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa

Freshwater

Akwaeke Emezi

Follow Me to Ground

Sue Rainsford

Muscle

Alan Trotter

Children of the Cave

Virve Sammalkorpi

Florida

Lauren Groff

The Vorrh

Brian Catling

You Should Have Left

Daniel Kehlmann

Cold Sea Stories

Pawel Huelle

As Though She Were Sleeping

Elias Khoury

Legend of a Suicide

David Vann

The Clay Dreaming

Ed Hillyer

The Art of Being Dead

Stephen Clayton

Tokyo Year Zero

David Peace

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

Liz Jensen

Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote

Ahmadou Kourouma

Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton

Stewart Home

At Swim, Two Boys

Jamie O'Neill

Duke of Egypt

Margriet De Moor

The Nautical Chart

Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Impressionist

Hari Kunzru

My Soul to Keep

Tananarive Due

The Siege

Helen Dunmore

Vurt

Jeff Noon

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow

Peter Hoeg

Bloodchild and Other Stories

Octavia Butler

Notes for a War Story

Gipi &nbsp