The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse by Iván Repila

A very strong recommendation for The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse by Iván Repila (translated by Sophie Hughes). This is Repila’s first book in English and the second that he has published. It makes me very curious to read his first book, as well as anything he happens to publish in the future. Repila is from Spain and was born in 1978.

John Self has ably summed up the book’s conceit and pointed out a number of its features, so I’ll point interested readers in that direction.

It’s about two boys stuck at the bottom of a well. Like The Woman in the Dunes, another book about people trapped in a hole, it has a strong allegorical feel to it, but it’s not simple to reduce this book to a message or a point. There are a few sentences scattered throughout the might lead a reader in one direction or another, but for the most part Repila simply concerns himself with elaborating the relationship between the two boys, the increasing madness of the smaller one, and the extraordinary mental and physical depredations that their plight subjects them to.

Repila has written a very disturbing book that one feels physically as one reads it. It is a short book, but one with a very powerful impact and that would support multiple readings. It’s quite impressive, and, as I mentioned before, it makes me wonder what might come next out of this person’s mind.

I should also mention Sophie Hughes’s translation, which is wonderful. I have not had a chance to read the Spanish, but I have no doubt in her skill here. The book reads beautifully in English.

Recent Posts

Criticism Isn't Free

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

You could also purchase one of my acclaimed ebooks.

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2019. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.