I am trying to describe this story by Andrés Barba and I do not want to; or even, I’m not sure that I can. Because partly I don’t like the idea that I can know a novelist from one story; and also I don’t like the idea that I can know a novelist in one story in translation. But really it’s because this singular story is so strange and so disturbing. For I can, after all, describe this story in terms of its plot – that it’s about a porn star who wants to resemble a unicorn, but already this is a problem because really this story is a fantasy about what exactly a monster or a person might be. So that, even more abstractly, as a diagram, I could say that this story is a zigzag: yes, as a series of feelings in the perturbed reader, I could say that this story begins as a disorientation, then a familiarity, then a disturbance again, and then a final reversal, where the prose becomes as literal as possible. And then I think to myself: but there is also the menace the reader feels in that title, ‘The Coming Flood’, which is never mentioned in the text and so it functions as another sign for imminent catastrophe – in the same way as the moments when the story pauses, and describes a physical detail in zooming and hyper close-up. So, then: I could say: Andrés Barba knows about the effect of miniature causes in a story; just as he knows that there are very minute ways in which a person might differ from a monster – a grafted horn, for instance. And this knowledge of the miniature seems to me to be a very large thing: and the other word for it, I think, is talent. – Adam Thirlwell, Best Young British Novelist 2003
All our contributors answered a questionnaire on their influences and the role of the writer in public life.
Name the five writers you most admire at the moment (any period, language or genre).
Henry James, Clarice Lispector, Jean Paul Sartre, Alejo Carpentier and Rilke. (And if you ask me tomorrow, I'll name another five...)
Have you published literary criticism?
Which languages do you read in?
English, Italian and Spanish.
Do you have your own web page?
Is your fiction your sole source of income? If not, what else do you live off?
I live off my journalism too.
Should writers play a role in public life beyond the publication of their work? If so, in what way?
Not necessarily, even though Spanish writers tend to think they need to have an opinion on everything...
– Andrés Barba’s story ‘The Coming Flood’ will form part of the online edition of this issue. Read about other contributors to Granta 113
Articles by Andrés Barba
Posts by Andrés Barba
06 November 2012
A rat as an interlocutor.