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’s recent translations include Don’t Shed Your Tears for Anyone Who Lives on These Streets by Patricio Pron, Learning to Talk to Plants by Marta Orriols and The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia by Max Besora. Forthcoming is When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà.

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