The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse by Iván Repila, a young Spanish writer, is a powerful allegorical novel in an elegant translation by Sophie Hughes. Attila has echoes of Beckett and Cormac McCarthy, but is very much its own thing–a fable for the early 21st century of a Europe in decline.
It looks impossible to get out,’ he says. And also: ‘But we’ll get out.’
Two brothers, Big and Small, are trapped at the bottom of a well. They have no food and little chance of rescue. Only the tempting specter of insanity offers a way out. As Small’s wits fail, Big formulates a desperate plan.
With the authority of the darkest fables, and the horrifying inevitability of all-too-real life, Repila’s unique allegory explores the depths of human desperation and, ultimately, our almost unending capacity for hope.
This excerpt is the first chapter of the book, courtesy of the publisher, Pushkin Press, London. Enjoy!
-Claudia Serea and Loren Kleinman