The Boys, by Toni Sala
The boys, so many positive thoughts associated with these words. «Boys» a word that brings up memories of games and childhood and running in the forest, of climbing trees and catching frogs. Of hot summers listening to the crickets sing their incessant tune, memories that are not necessarily ours, but of a generic childhood that belongs to us all. But the story in The Boys could not be farther from these possible threads. The Boys is not about games and childhood or running in the forest or climbing trees, nor it is about catching frogs. There are no crickets singing endlessly. Just two boys. And the boys are dead. They are dead before the story begins. Yet the story only begins because they are dead. It is because of their unexpected death that we meet four unrelated characters who, one at a time, tell us of the events before and after the fatal car crash.
The banker in full-mode mid-life crisis, the brute truck driver, the girlfriend still in shock, and a prodigal son. The path of these four people converge after the two young men’s death and they each bring us full loads of sadness, anger and misery.
This is a book to be read in the right mood. If you’re feeling low on energy, or are going through a rough patch, The Boys is not the best of choices. Go for Solana’s twins instead. But if you’re looking into discovering a new voice and a new setting and into delving into the minds of those in times of personal trouble, then The Boys might be what you’re looking for. The writing is outstanding, strong and gripping, the kind that drags you into the most remote corners of perturbed thoughts making you feel that same asphyxia the characters suffer from.
Set in Vidreres, an inland town outside Girona, north of Barcelona, The Boys takes place during Spain’s most recent recession and brings to the English language reader the reality of those who have no dreams.
Tile: The Boys
Author: Toni Sala
Original title (Catalan): Els nois
Translator: Mara Faye Lethem
Publisher: Two Lines Press
Date: November 2015
Two Lines Press will also be bringing us the English Translation of Sala's next novel, Pursuit, (transl. Mara Faye Lethem), in 2021.