Learning To Lose | Granta

  • Published: 02/06/2011
  • ISBN: 9781846272066
  • 129x20mm
  • 592 pages

Learning To Lose

David Trueba

Translated by Mara Faye Lethem

It is the day of Sylvia’s sixteenth birthday and her life as an adult is about to begin – not with the party she had been planning, but with a car crash. At the wheel is a talented young footballer, just arrived from Buenos Aires and set for stardom on and off the pitch. As their destinies collide, elsewhere in the city Sylvie’s father and grandfather are finding their own lives suddenly derailed by a violent murder and a secret affair.

Set against the maze of Madrid’s congested and contested streets, Learning to Lose follows four individuals as they swerve off course in unexpected directions. Each of them is dodging guilt and the fear of failure, but their shared search for happiness, love, purity and – above all – a way to survive forms a taut narrative web that binds the characters together and holds the reader fast.

At turns the novel resembles Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander trilogy ... with its young heroine adrift in a world that offers few reasons to be trustful, and plenty to be otherwise. An elegantly written, well-thought-through coming-of-age novel, with the requisite furtive embraces, broken hearts and missed signals


In this involving ensemble piece, Trueba shows a cinematic flair for the way urban lives intersect - and collide. Crash-style, a car accident in Madrid wraps the fates of a teenager and her father around that of a promising football pro just arrived from Buenos Aires; his career is captured with a rare insight. Against the isolation of the big city, the urge to connect with others binds a snaking, swerving tale

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

David Trueba brings a cinematic pacing, a very visual sensibility and the feel of an ensemble movie to this, his third novel. And what a novel it is, translated into a sensual and poetic English by Mara Faye Lethem ... Lush, intricate and rewarding


The Author

David Trueba was born in Madrid in 1969 and is a successful novelist and scriptwriter. La buena vida was his widely acclaimed debut as a film director and was followed by four more films. He is the author of two previous novels; this is the first to be published in English.

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The Translator

Mara Faye Lethem is a writer, researcher, and literary translator. Winner of the inaugural 2022 Spain-USA Foundation Translation Award for Max Besora’s The Adventures and Misadventures of Joan Orpí, she was also recently awarded the 2022 Joan Baptiste Cendrós International Prize for her contributions to Catalan literatureHer translation of Irene Solà’s When I Sing, Mountains Dance was a finalist for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Barrios Book in Translation Prize and the 2023 Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize. Her forthcoming translations include Pol Guasch’s Napalm in the Heart (Faber & Faber and FSG), Alana S. Portero’s Bad Habit (HarperVia), Max Besora’s The Fake Muse, and Irene Solà’s I Gave You Eyes And You Looked Toward Darkness.

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