Such Small Hands by Andres Barba
An achievement of brave imagination in which the author creates a world that is measured and experienced without the mediating tool of language
Such Small Hands
- Rewriting my main character as gay was a real eye-openeer
- Portals to a past: a father and son’s impressions of the Troubles
- Reconsidering Thomas Merton, who died 50 years ago today
- ‘Who could fail to love a woman who decides to build an aircraft in her uncle’s shed?’
- How the parents of Ireland’s authors survived their past
This novel has all the intensity of a fairytale as it leads the reader by the hand into the dark forest of imagined childhood, into the land of pre-language. The story centres on that archetypal children’s fiction character – the orphan – the child cut off from the intimate influence of the adult. It is set in an orphanage all the better to focus on the fervid energies of the young girls.
There are small moments which irritate but ultimately it’s an achievement of impressive and brave imagination in which Andres Barba creates a world that is measured and experienced without the mediating tool of language, a world in which the use of language is on the horizon. The terrain of childhood is brilliantly described using other experiential coordinates – a sensing of space, of weight, of lightness, of smell, of dark.
“The news travelled through their skin, through the contact of their elbows at the table.” Dark, almost fevered, energies are traced with searing honesty – rage lays side-by-side with love as day and night flip with an intensity from one to the other. A strange unsettling novel that hews a remarkable sense within itself.