Editorial: Seix Barral
Published at: Mouria (The Netherlands), Hispabooks (USA)
Synopsis: This is a poignant story, or better yet, a series of stories that center around a Jewish kid in Auschwitz, Hurbinek, whose life, albeit not going beyond the tender age of three takes on profound and harrowing dimensions. By skillfully recreating his life and that of those around him, and through a masterful use of fact and fiction, the author goes beyond life and death, and sings a sad but powerful hymn to the memory of all the children that perished in the Holocaust—and elsewhere: hundreds of thousands of kids whose story is never told, whose life never bloomed, and whose suffering is all the more insane, and at times painful, for in their innocence they realize nothing but the shear fear of pain and death. In “The Birthday Buyer” Adolfo Garcia Ortega’s superb control of language gives us a highly intense and moving novel that keeps us riveted by the story’s emotional charged account of desolation, hope, survival, love, horror and ultimately deliverance through death. Thanks to the love and kindness of a few (including Primo Levi, who first rescues Hurbinek from oblivion in his writings), we are presented with a terrifying new look at an Auschwitz which is little known and too often forgotten, and whose horror is as tragic now as it was then. For who are the innocent, we are left to ask, if children are not only not spared but suffer, as in this case, a horrific death at the hands of crazed doctors experimenting with the limits of pain. By ingeniously moving backwards and forward in time, lives otherwise torn asunder are tragically but beautifully pieced together in a moving and chilling account, in the context of modern man’s most ignominious hour. And by rescuing their memory and creating a “life after death” for them, the author not only pays homage to the dead but strives to redeem man’s noblest side through the power of love and compassion, which no matter what amount of torment or suffering is inflicted, can never be extinguished.
The novel received the Dulce Chacón Prize for Spanish narrative in 2004, and has been translated in several languages.
“Moving, profound, sad and beautiful”, Elvira Lindo, El País
“An extraordinary novel. Mark my words start reading it right-a-way.” Hugo Garcia Saritzu, La Vanguardia