DNF: In the Night of Time

Posted 10 January, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

In the Night of Time
By: Antonio Munoz Molina
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

October 1936. Spanish architect Ignacio Abel arrives at Penn Station, the final stop on his journey from war-torn Madrid, where he has left behind his wife and children, abandoning them to uncertainty. Crossing the fragile borders of Europe, he reflects on months of fratricidal conflict in his embattled country, his own transformation from a bricklayer’s son to a respected bourgeois husband and professional, and the clandestine, all-consuming love affair with an American woman that forever alters his life.

Winner of the 2012 Prix Méditerranée Étranger and hailed as a masterpiece, In the Night of Time is a sweeping, grand novel and an indelible portrait of a shattered society, written by one of Spain’s most important contemporary novelists.

I was approved of an ARC of this title from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was so happy that I was approved a copy of this novel because Antonio Munoz Molina has been on my want-to-read for AGES (his other books that were translated to English, Sepharad and Manuscript of Ashes have been on my want-to-read list for a very long time).

I started reading this novel sometime last week and it started off nicely; there wasn’t much dialogue but there were some lines here and there that I really liked, I thought they were beautiful. After two – three chapters, I started wondering what was going on, where was the story headed. But at 20% into the novel, I finally had to put the book down and label it as a DNF. It pains me to do this–I had been looking forward to reading something by this author for so long–but I was already several chapters in and I’m still not feeling the story or the characters and it was actually quite a labour to get through those chapters. The writing, while curiously particular, is very dense. A lot of the time it’s just prose, with scant dialogue and without frequent paragraph breaks to break the ideas down. It makes it difficult to really understand what’s going on or why the information in the prose is important. The mind wanders. And this book is a big one: at 656 pages hardback, I don’t think I can handle the narrative style for any longer.

I may pick this title up again in the future but for now, I sadly place this book on the did-not-finish pile. (As a side note, yes, this is the first time I’m actually using the DNF designation here on my blog)

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4 Responses to “DNF: In the Night of Time”

  1. Oh, such a sad start for the reading year. I appreciate your honesty, though, since I have heard about this author before but haven’t read anything by him. Will you be giving a chance to his other novels?

    I hope you have more luck with your next read!

    • I’m still up for checking out his other novels sometime in the future 🙂 Still a bit sad that I had to put this one down but I didn’t want to drag myself through the book if it’s lost my attention so early in it…

      Thanks! Hope you’ve had a fantastic start for the reading year 🙂

  2. Isi

    Ohh I’m sorry to hear (read) that.
    It’s true that this author’s narrative style is dense, I agree, but perhaps because I know it and I only read his books when I’m ready for it, I love them.
    This one is actually one of my favourite books.
    I think you have to take into account that in Muñoz Molina’s novels, the style, the language, is almost as important as the story itself. They are to be read with calm, peace and quiet, in that “state of mind”, as to say.
    The same happens with Javier Marías, another Spanish author with a similar narrative style (in case you try someday).

    I really hope you try it again another time, when you feel like it!

    • Thanks for the input about his works! 🙂 I think I will try his works again when my TBR pile has settled down a bit, I think when I started reading his book months ago I just wasn’t in the right mood for it. Plus, the ARC I got was a pdf, which made reading on my Kobo especially 🙁 given how dense his style is.

      Thanks also for the heads up about Javier Marias’ works; I’m hoping to read a book of his one of these days! 🙂

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