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An author (a version of Vila-Matas himself) presents a short "history" of a secret society, the Shandies, who are obsessed with the concept of "portable literature." The society is entirely imagined, but in this rollicking, intellectually playful book, its members include writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, Man Ray, and Georgia O'Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in apartments, hotels, and cafes all over Europe to discuss what great literature really is: brief, not too serious, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in stationary submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe.
ENRIQUE VILA-MATAS was born in Barcelona. He has received countless prizes and written numerous award-winning novels, including Bartleby & Co., Montano's Malady, Never Any End to Paris, and Dublinesque.
Anne McLean lives in Toronto and has translated the works of authors including Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, and Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Enrique Vila-Matas.
Agustín Fernández Mallo was born in La Coruña, Spain in 1967. Before devoting himself full-time to his fiction and poetry, he worked for many years as an experimental physicist. His collected poems were published in Spain in 2012.
Thomas Bunstead has translated Enrique Vila-Matas, Aixa de la Cruz, Eduardo Halfon, Yuri Herrera, and Rodrigo Fresán. His own writing has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, TheParis Review Daily, and TheIndependent on Sunday.
His intelligent playfulness and his fervor for written language are visible on every page and highlighted by this excellent translation. Vila-Matas is a master, one of the most gifted contemporary Spanish novelists. Vila-Matas's work made a tremendous impression on me. I was so fascinated by his humor, the incredible knowledge he has of all kinds of literature, his compassion for writers, and his fearlessness in taking on literary subjects and making that part of what he is writing about.--Paul Auster Arguably Spain's most significant contemporary literary figure.--Joanna Kavenna Vila-Matas's touch is light and whimsical, while his allusions encompass a rogue's gallery of world literature.