Snippet: Carlos Soto’s “Coalman”

Carlos Soto, El carbonero (The Coalman), 2016, 288 p.

Publisher’s promotion:

There appears a first-rate narrator with a surprising rural drama with a criminal background, in which the inheritance of [Miguel] Delibes merges with the talent of Tarantino.

The English summary can be found at Planeta’s foreign rights page, which means they consider it a book of wider appeal than just for the Spanish market.

If one looks for the title, there appear an astonishing number of literary blogs that have already talked about this book in the two months since its appearance (naturally those on “blogger –” first, as they are part of the Google universe…):

The blogger of “Libros que hay que leer” (“Mustreads”) is pretty enthusiastic in her extended review:

El carbonero is a really simple novel from the outside and complex inside, narrated in a masterly fashion by one of the most restrained voices that I have had a chance to read recently. A different book that conquers you from the first page. (final summary)

The blogger of “Entre mis libros y you” (“Between my books and me”; more than 600 followers and 500k+ visits) shows her enthusiasm already at the beginning of her review:

There are books that can only be criticized for the fact that they end too quickly. Brief and intensive, my attempts to control my reading cravings so that the reading would last a little longer didn’t work at all, and after 24 hours I fell down worn-out and defeated by a story and a prose made for conquest.

The blogger of  the group “De lector a lector” (“From reader to reader”; nearly 800 followers), in her review describes the same traits as the previous ones (somber atmosphere, great localization, few characters, intense) and gets to a similar conclusion:

It’s a novel that will surprise you, a reading that leaves some sediment and which it is difficult to get rid of. A novel that, a few days after you finished reading it, you will realize that you have liked it a lot more than you thought at the beginning, …

The blogger of “Entre montones de libros” (“Between heaps of books”; nearly 4k fans on facebook and 2k+ on google+) also liked the book:

I enjoyed the story, I accompanied the protagonist in his search for truth, for vengeance and for his own place in peace; I listened to, more than read, every one of his confessions, and I put myself into his skin and his eyes. Because if there is one thing that El Carbonero has got, it is that it doesn’t leave the readers indifferent.

One could probably go on and on. This blogger is not too enthusiastic about somber novels whose protagonists are looking for vengeance, but the novel’s setting close to the Tramontana mountain range on Mallorca makes it quite appealing…

SOURCE: Destino (publisher)


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