Join Carlos Ruiz Zafon to talk about THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, May's Book of the Month on TUESDAY 4 JUNE, 9-10pm

(104 Posts)

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the author of six novels, that have been published in more than 40 different languages. THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, the global phenomenon published in 2005, sold 1.5 million copies in the UK alone. Our May Book of the Month, THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, is the sequel. It is 1957, Daniel is now married with a child, and Fermin Romero de Torres is preparing for his own marriage to Bernada. But Fermin's mysterious past is preparing to return, when a stranger leaves him a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo with a strange inscription. The story then moves back to the late 1930s, unlocking the mystery of Fermin?s imprisonment in the notorious Montjuic prison, where he meets fellow inmate David Martin, a writer whose storytelling and schizophrenic episodes have given him the nickname Prisoner of Heaven.

Zafon has created his own Gothic version of Barcelona, where real events and odd magic combine. There are links back and forth to the other two novels in the 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books' cycle, but Zafon has ensured that each also stands alone, and can be read in any order. Whether you are already a Zafon-ophile or this is your first encounter, it is easy to become fully immersed in the rollicking adventure.

You can find more details on our May book of the month page. You can buy the novel in paperback or, if you're eager to get started, a Kindle version.

Find out more at the English Zafon website or watch trailers and download extracts from all the 'Forgotten Books' cycle at the official Zafon website (most of it also translated into English).

Or if you are fairly proficient in Spanish, you can follow him on Twitter: @ZafonOficial

We are thrilled that Carlos will be answering questions about THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, as well as THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, his other books and his extraordinary career on this thread on Tuesday 4 June, 9-10pm. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and meet the author. Hope you can join us...

catbob Mon 27-May-13 21:25:46

What a fantastic surprise to get a free copy of The Prisoner of Heaven. I'd forgotten all about it so it made my day - thank you! I usually avoid books that have been translated and wouldn't have picked this out myself (which is the great thing about this book club) but really enjoyed it and got straight on to the library catalogue when I reached the end to order copies of the other books from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I had wondered if it would be a problem starting with book 3 as it were but when I started reading didn't feel that at all. I think it will actually be quite interesting to go back and read the first two and get to know more about the characters' backgrounds and stories, almost like becoming better acquainted with a friend. Definitely recommend.

Just a reminder to put advance questions up here by the end of the weekend please.

And do ask Carlos about any of his books, it doesn't matter which ones you have or haven't read as this will be an author chat covering all his work.

Looking forward to next Tues very much.

littlewifey Thu 30-May-13 22:34:04

Really enjoyed this and, as others have said, really felt as though I was 'in' Barcel

littlewifey Thu 30-May-13 22:34:49

Really felt as though I was 'in' Barcel

littlewifey Thu 30-May-13 22:36:19

My question: is the cemetery of forgotten books inspired by a real location?

FairyArmadillo Thu 30-May-13 22:54:05

Enjoying Shadow of the Wind so much. (Meant to download Prisoner of Heaven on my Kindle but downloaded Shadow of the Wind by mistake. Good mistake!) Was wondering just now as I was reading, how long it took to complete Shadow of the Wind, beginning with your imaginings for the plot. Reading the book reminds me of of when I read One Hundred Years of Solitude twenty years ago, as a teenager.

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Sat 01-Jun-13 15:39:17

I am so envy of those with free copies of the new book! I adore Carlos' work.

I too would like to know more about the cemetery of forgotten books, it's such a wonderful idea (if it doesn't already exist).

Another question would be: Fermin is such a strong yet funny character, is he based on anyone in particular? He is so beautifully described I can still picture him in my mind even though it has been years since I last read Shadow Of The Wind.

HazelDormouse Sat 01-Jun-13 20:59:35

Thoroughly enjoyable novel. I can not wait for the final book of the series.

* How did you do the research for this novel series? Were you able to talk to anyone who was imprisoned for political reasons in Franco's Spain?
* I believe you implied in a brief interview in the back of THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN that this is a 'game of chess'. If this is the case, who are the players, Valls and Fermin, with Daniel merely being a King or Knight? Can Daniel be an opponent if he doesn't really know the rules of game (in particular in SHADOW OF THE WIND) and is at first being taken along with the action?

Thanks to all for their questions so far - and a quick reminder to any of those who can't make it tomorrow to put their messages here.

I think it is going to be a marvellous chat, looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow 9pm.

beanandspud Mon 03-Jun-13 12:33:26

I was delighted to get a free copy of this book as I'd seen great reviews and I'm gutted that I can't join the webchat.

I am nearly through reading it and have really enjoyed it despite not reading any of the previous books. Loved the descriptions of Barcelona.

Just bought Shadow of the Wind in preparation for my holiday and looking forward to piecing together some of the characters.

brendarenda Mon 03-Jun-13 13:36:12

Coming to this a bit late as just back from holiday where Prisoner of Heaven was my beach book. I'm now desperate to read Shadow of the Wind...
I thoroughly enjoyed Prisoner - the characters, the dialogue, the compelling plot, but more than anything else just the atmosphere that Zafon creates. I completely agree with Awks - that you can almost smell and taste the book.
If I'm not too late I'd like to ask a question about translation. Does Carlos work with his translators to make sure they convey this atmosphere effectively? Or does he just leave them to it? (I have to say that this doesn't have any of the awkwardness you sometimes get with a translation.)
Also, despite the brutality and the downright evil of some of the characters (not to mention the violence of this particular period in history), the book doesn't feel at all bleak or depressing. On the contrary, there's an overriding sense of love and humanity and even humour. I was left feeling uplifted by the good in people. Is this deliberate? (Sorry - that's two questions!)

EstelleGetty Mon 03-Jun-13 14:52:53

An advance question, in case I don't make it on the night.

Hi Carlos, Barcelona is such a wonderful city and your descriptions of different locations are incredibly evocative. I would love to know what your favourite places in the city are. I love the church of Sant Pere de Puelles in Born.

Moltes gràcies!

alialiath Mon 03-Jun-13 15:08:29

Not received any bookssad( But as an avid reader would like to ask Carlos Ruiz Zafon, if he has a writing routine, and if so what it involves,

piruletas Mon 03-Jun-13 15:36:19

Ruiz Zafon is one of my favourite authors ever but I am Spanish and have read all his books in Spanish. I believe his command of the Spanish language is a fantastic one and what he does with it when he writes is very much part of the story itself. Accordingly, my question to him would be about the English translations of his novels. What does he think about them? A lot is lost in those translations. Does it not bother him? Does he agree? Thanks a lot!

Umlauf Mon 03-Jun-13 15:45:53

Hi Carlos,

I love all your books and they have fanned my passion for Spain, so much so I moved here in September!

You paint a raw and incredibly emotive picture of life during the civil war, and how it has touched the lives years later of Daniel's generation. How did you go about researching this period, and did you find it challenging considering the 'pacto de olvido?'

Also, will we see more of Daniel and co, and what are you working in next?!!

Thanks, Umlauf.

piruletas that's really interesting about the translations, I'm learning Spanish but couldn't read them in the originals yet, and I always admired how authentic the translation seems, they must be amazing in the originals!

TeaforRoo Mon 03-Jun-13 15:59:33

We were in Barcelona on St Georges day, without being aware of the signifance of that day in the Catalan calendar. We came across the crowd waiting for you to sign your books, do you always get that kind of reception in Barcelona? I have read Angel's Game and very much enjoyed it. I wondered who your main influences were and whether Jorge Luis Borges was one of them?

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Mon 03-Jun-13 17:36:03

i've just started Shadow of the Wind and I'm enjoying it just as much as Prisoner of Heaven. Looking forward to the webchat!

colourhappy7 Mon 03-Jun-13 19:45:39

Carlos - I have been captivated by Shadow of the Wind, having read it years ago, and have only just found out about the other two books that link to it (Angel's Game, and Prisoner of Heaven), and am utterly fascinated about the translation, and have a few questions about it:-

1) Is Lucia an utter genius, and does her translation utterly adhere to every word, or does she re-write it into English with slight alterations to the original?

2) How closely do you work with her on the translation? Do you talk face to face? Is it a collaboration, or do you simply send her the manuscript and liaise online?

Thank you for the imagery you evoke and for your beautifully haunting words.

Rebecca

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Tue 04-Jun-13 13:21:08

I'd like to know whether you envisioned the whole Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle when you started The Shadow of the Wind, or whether it was originally going to be a single novel?

Hi Carlos, The Shadow of the wind is one of my favourite books, thank you.

How do you begin writing a tale with such an intricate plot? Do you use some sort of flow chart or spider diagram?

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 04-Jun-13 17:18:03

I just want to say that Shadow of the Wind is the first book I have read actually in Spanish since finishing my Spanish degree a million years ago when dinosaurs walked the earth.....

I'd like to ask please what contemporary (and non) Spanish writers Carlos would recommend.

My favourite ever book by a Spanish writer (and one I reread often) is Requiem por un campesino espanol (no tilde on keyboard, sorry!) and some of the descriptive passages in Wind have that kind of sad, quiet evocation for me.....

Tell me what else to read Carlos please! <fawns and falls at the feet of greatness>

CarlosRuizZafón Tue 04-Jun-13 18:22:14

Hello, Tilly. This is Carlos testing the connection and checking that the log in works. Cheers!

Mems Tue 04-Jun-13 18:23:11

Can't make the discussion this evening - am loving the book though, and looking forward to reading the rest of the series. My question is about magic realism - it seems to be a real feature of Spanish-South American culture and I was wondering whether Carlos could comment on why he thinks this is.

WriteOff Tue 04-Jun-13 20:42:19

Carlos, when did you start wanting to be a writer? And how do you go sbout writing your novels - do you begin at the beginning? With a character? With an image? Do you stop and start?
By the way congratulations on your novels, your writing is poetic and Shadow is one of my favourite books.

Evening everyone

I am honoured and delighted that Carlos Ruiz Zafon is joining us tonight from Los Angeles to talk about his writing career, the phenomenal success of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series and his excellent new novel THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN.

Carlos, firstly, thank you very much indeed for taking the time to be here. And many congratulations on such a magically evocative book (and also on the others in the cycle: they are all much loved on Mumsnet). We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

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