The young intellectuals J. and Elena leave behind their comfortable lives, the parties and the money in Medellín to settle down on a remote island. Their plan is to lead the Good Life, self-sufficient and close to nature. But from the very start, each day brings small defeats and imperceptible dramas, which gradually turn paradise into hell, as their surroundings inexorably claim back every inch of the 'civilisation' they brought with them. Based on a true story, In the Beginning Was the Sea is a dramatic and searingly ironic account of the disastrous encounter of intellectual struggle with reality - a satire of hippyism, ecological fantasies, and of the very idea that man can control fate.
Pushkin Collection editions feature a spare, elegant series style and superior, durable components. The Collection is typeset in Monotype Baskerville, litho-printed on Munken Premium White Paper and notch-bound by the independently owned printer TJ International in Padstow. The covers, with French flaps, are printed on Colorplan Pristine White Paper. Both paper and cover board are acid-free and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
About the Author
Tomás González (b. 1950 in Medellin, Colombia) studied philosophy, then became barman in a Bogotá nightclub, whose owner published González's In the Beginning Was the Sea (translated into German, French and now for the first time into English) in 1983. He also lived in Miami and New York, where he wrote much of his work, while making a living as a translator. After twenty years in the US, he returned to Colombia where he now lives. His many novels include La Storia de Horacio (translated into French) and La Luz Difficil (translated into German, French and Dutch).
Frank Wynne is an Irish translator and writer. His translation of Frédéric Beigbeder's Windows on the World won the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He has also won the 2008 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for translation from the French and the 2012 Premio Valle Inclán for Spanish Translation.
“Eight years ago, González was branded ‘the best-kept secret of Colombian literature’ . . . He has since become one of his country's foremost novelists, and In the Beginning Was the Sea – this taut, uncompromising study of the faultlines in all of us – is earning a wide readership. Perhaps it's time to call him something else.”
“In the Beginning Was the Sea [is] a book that simultaneously works as a political parable, a novel, and a mournful confessional […] written in a fashion meant to hold up his own grief and disorientation as its own strange flower, an emotional germination meant both to stand on its own and be inseparable from all that surrounds it, an individual “you,” straining to emerge from a ceaseless body of discovery, loss, memory, and their insatiable repetition.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books
“What makes the characters so recognizable, so uncomfortable and so relevant, particularly in today's hipster-dominated culture, is how their intent to live consciously is thwarted by an utter lack of self-awareness. . . The strength of description, and the menacing tone that runs beneath In the Beginning Was the Sea, however, are ultimately what give the slim novel its haunting power."
—The Chicago Tribune
“[T]he novel leaves its mark […] the arresting prose and complex characters shine.”
“Colombian novelist González tells a common story with uncommon economy […] For readers following J's fantasies and hopes, it is impossible not to think of Kafka's K […] González’s work has been translated into six languages, but this is his first book to appear in English, an auspicious beginning.”
“Gonzalez poetically and comically captures the inevitable destruction of those who live in a world of fantasy and hubris, depicting beauty and despair by turns.”
“González impresses with his enactment of initial dream and subsequent nightmare. His tropical idyll is expertly depicted through a succession of richly conveyed sights and sounds… Based on a true story, In the Beginning Was the Sea is a gripping cautionary tale about how hard, cruel reality sooner or later impinges upon our seemingly imperishable fantasies. It is González’s first book to be published in English. If this is a measure of what he is capable of, with luck there will be many more.”
—The Star Tribune
“Aided by a devastatingly evocative translation from Frank Wynne and armed with the skill of a master storyteller, over the course of 200 some odd pages Gonzalez constructs a chilling, brilliantly plotted tale . . . From the very beginning the author, and his translator, transport the reader into a scintillating, unsettling dreamlike world where every sentence comes to life in vibrant detail.”
“The lyrical, haunting story has the feel of a fable—a young man and his beautiful wife abandon their hectic, intellectual, night-clubbing life in the city to buy a farm on an undeveloped stretch of coast—while the spare, disquieting prose suggests the start of an art-house horror film.”
—Daniel Levine, Words Without Borders