Arturo Pérez-Reverte and graffiti

El País announced that his new novel will be published on November 27. The information contained here is taken from this announcement.

It’s called El francotirador paciente [The patient sniper]. The novel leads an urban art scout around the cities of Madrid, Lisbon, Verona and Naples. Having received the assignment by a publisher and some important gallery owners, he follows the tracks of a legendary graffiti artist called Sniper. This painter is responsible for spectacular acts that have caused even mortal accidents. The story contains adventure and some outpour of war and crime novels.

“It’s an urban guerilla novel; the most radical graffiti world is close to the urban guerilla,” explains the author. “This more aggressive sector views its acts as a battle against society and  uses words such as bombardment, attack, mission… Moving around with these graffiti artists, I was reminded of my time as a war correspondent.”

The novel starts in 1990 with two young graffiti painters, mere infantry of their collective, that while patrolling their territory they meet one of their great idols, a solitary guy whose tag is the word “Sniper” in big letters and the dot of the letter “i” converted into the telescopic visor of a sniper.

Pérez-Reverte points out that he was attracted to the world of graffiti by their “tactic paraphernalia” and their understanding of urban space as a combat territory, “the city as a battle field”. Adding to this the “twisted epic” of this urban tribe, “with a series of moral codes that produce their own heroes and villains, very profitable personalities narratively speaking.” He reflects that to find “tired, skeptic and marginalized heroes you don’t need to go as far back as to the 17th century.”

This novel required of the author “to work during one year with graffiti artists of Spain, Portugal and Italy” and to plunge “into a very rough, radical, sometimes violent world that moves between art and vandalism”.

Pérez-Reverte clarifies that he personally did not spray, though “I was with them, the graffiti guys, I experienced in their world, their music”. He says he had always been interested to know what was behind the drawing on the wall. “One graffitero told me that he wrote to be someone; it was a marginalized guy without any culture, but with leaving his name on a wall, he came into existence.”

As one could imagine, Pérez-Reverte’s interest is focussed on the most authentic and irreducible graffiti artists. “They reject the cimarrons, the civilized, the tamed. ‘If it’s legal, it’s not graffiti’, they say. This rough individualist and radical attitude attracts me very much.”

The writer reminds us that his interest in painting, and art in general and its role in the present, has appeared in a lot of his novels, e.g. La tabla de Flandes [The Flanders Panel] or El pintor de batallas [The Painter of Battles]. And he adds that El francotirador paciente is full of symbols and the usual winks that his regular readers will recognize.

Up to here the information published by the Spanish daily. Apart from a piece of news, one could consider it a PR article, as Pérez-Reverte’s publisher Alfaguara is a label of the Santillana publishing group, that for its part belongs to the Prisa group, that is the owner of the newspaper El País

One online reader commented directly that the novel’s title is somewhat less than optimal: what else but “patience” would you expect from a sniper? We foresee the first reviews for closer to the publishing date, by the end of November.

More on Pérez-Reverte in the Wikipedia article. lists 13 of Pérez-Reverte’s novels as available in an English language translation.

[P.S.: A New York Times online reader had this comment on the translations of works by Pérez-Reverte (commenting an article on translation in general):

  • b. lynch black      the bronx, ny
it is not just classical translations that present a challenge. years ago, i picked up books by Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Fencing Master, The Flanders Panel, The Club Dumas, and several others, in translation, and was totally enthralled by them. the rhythym of the language, the pacing and characterizations were wonderful. a few years later, i found more of his books, particularly The Captain Alatriste books, and Queen of the South. and after reading one, i knew immediately that it must be a different translator. i tried the next one, but the pacing was ponderous, the language felt flat. i do not believe an excellent writer could have his gift fall so far in such a short time. i don’t know who the original translator was, but i came to believe that translating is as much a gift as writing is.
FYI: the translators are the following:
Margaret Jull Costa: The Flanders Panel, The King’s Gold, Pirates of the Levant, The Sun over Breda, The Man/Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet;
Margaret Sayers Peden: Captain Alatriste, The Painter of Battles, Purity of Blood;
Sonia Soto: The Club DumasThe Seville Communion;
Frank Wynne: The Siege;
Andrew Hurley: The Queen of the South;
Michael York: The Fencing Master]

2 thoughts on “Arturo Pérez-Reverte and graffiti

  1. Pingback: Snippet: Arturo Pérez-Reverte on dogs and sons of b****** | literary rambles

  2. Pingback: Snippet: Barcino prize 2017 to Pérez-Reverte | literary rambles

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