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The Sleeping World

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  41 reviews
“A searing, beautifully written novel that captures the exhilaration and dangers of 1970s post-Franco Spain. Mosca, a bitterly jaded young woman, goes on a harrowing search for her missing brother—and the history that destroyed their lives. Violent, heartbreaking, unforgettable, The Sleeping World is a stunning debut” (Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban).

Spain, 1
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 2016)
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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  111 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book!!!! A wild, increasingly-strange-as-it-goes, sorrowful, intense, brilliant read. There are no easy answers in this book, and its lyricism and dark dreaminess appear when least expected, reeling you in again and again. By the end I was racing through the pages– it's taut but also haunting, delicious.
Crystal King
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous dark prose punctuates every passage of this book, set in 1970s Spain. Fuentes perfectly captures the idealistic yet aimless sense of early adulthood as the four main characters make their way across Spain and into France, searching for a sense of meaning. University student Mosca is the only one that has a true purpose, to find her missing brother Alexis. His memory haunts her every move, underlying all her decisions. It's a timely novel, a warning for us about the very real dangers of ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in a row I have read where the writing is great but the plot is meh. Fuentes is one of the most poetic and lyrical writers I have read. Some of her sentences are breathtaking. But the plot involves several college aged students (which--ok, they are supposed to be self centered and disengaged but I really did not care about any of them and actively sort of disliked most) who are both on the run and searching for something. The book just doesn't go anywhere (Not literally. ...more
last year on publication I opened t on general p[principles and it started really great and I couldn't put it down for its first 100 pages or so but then it petered out and I lost interest and just read the ending; I tried it again recently as I thought it would improve (in the sense of my opinion of the book will improve) with time and for once I read it end to end, though the promise of the early pages still doesn't quite fulfill till the end
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book's premise has originally intrigued me, but apparently not enough and it ended up sitting around on my kindle until now. And having read it, it's probably safe to say maybe it should have been left alone. This isn't to say it's a terrible book, far from it, there are some nice passages and I think the author did a terrific job of conveying the anarchistic zeitgeist of the post Franco Spain of the late 1970s. It's just that aside from the well described chaos, the story was much too thin ...more
Spain in the '70's. Franco is dead. The danger is still very present. Family members and other loved ones have been disappeared. One young woman, Mosca, has lost her parents and her brother Alexi; there are no bodies, of course. This book follows her and a handful of friends, who have been more or less involved in resistance & protest, as she searches for her brother.

It was hard to get into this incredible book. These are young people who have nothing and no future. They have nowhere to go.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Touchstone Books for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

I will always love a good historical fiction book. Throw in post-Franco Spain, and this is one I'm definitely interested in! One of my majors in college was Spanish and the history always fascinated me, mainly because it's something we don't typically learn about (or at least go in depth). THE SLEEPING WORLD by Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes is a fantastic and immersive debut about the post-Franco Spain culture and the
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sleeping World was different than what I expected, and I enjoyed it. Both the story and characters were multi-layered, and I was engrossed in the world shared by Fuentes. I suppose this book falls under historical fiction, which is not my favorite genre, but I liked this one.

The tense air of the novel's society was especially relevant to me right now - they are in the middle of changes, and our main characters are young, involved, and ready to make mistakes and sacrifices. I think they are
Hester Young
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE SLEEPING WORLD is truly luminous IF you can read and enjoy it for what it is. To say that the book is about punk university students attempting to resist fascism in 1977 post-Franco Spain sounds deceptively concrete. For me, the book was less about plot than impressions, moods, imagery, and gorgeous language. It was less about characters than history, themes, and haunting questions. In the final third of the book, there is a sense of dreaminess, a feeling of entering a subconscious realm. I ...more
there might have been a time, when i was in high school or college perhaps, when this book would have spoken to me. in that time i read voraciously the peripatetic adventures of hemingway's non-heroes and imagined myself traveling from france to spain and back on the spur of the moment, overnight, roughing it up. the freedom, you know? it appeals to you when you are barely over childhood.

i don't know the author's age, but i imagine her to be also, as i was then, in her 20s. and i defy anyone to
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
4.5 out of 5. I couldn't put it down. It's written elegantly and definitely worth the read.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, spain, historical
Searing and sorrowful, full of water, cities, ghosts, and words, all drowning, unmoored from their places; a laudable effort on capturing the pernicious transition to democracy in Spain, inked throughout with the tendrils of a clinging dictatorship that both defined and destroyed the nation. fledgling adolescence, deadly political discord, the cyclone of haplessness - it's a sad, slow book, bridged with pain and poetics, but it is a true book, one with a cinematic ending that plows through the r ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's the subject matter that drew me to this book.
However, the pace was too slow. Hardly any meaningful content, and the whole thing was overwritten with too much mysticism and symbolism for my liking. Such an interesting important time in history; I was hoping to get something more out of this book but in the end it just fell flat. Meh
Vera Kurian
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary

This novel is imbued with the frenetic feeling of being young, politically angry, and more than a little reckless. You can feel the danger of the political tension in the country in the air and the characters are lashing out in ways you know might not end well. A novel with beautiful prose. (helps if you already have some understanding of what was going on in Spain during that time period).
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a beautifully written and deeply moving novel about love, family, loss, secrets, friendship, politics, revolution and the things that tie us to other people whether we want them to or not. Gabrielle takes us into the world of Spain after the falling of a dictator and we follow three friends, friends may be too strong a word, but three people intimately connected to one another by a life-changing event in the heat of revolution. There is a way that she talks about loss and the ...more

This book is set in Spain in 1977, after Franco's death but before Spain's future direction became clear. Revolution -- political, cultural, generational -- is in the air, along with punk music. Mosca and her friends flee their college town after they are IDed as being involved in an attack on a policeman during a demonstration. Their flight gains direction from their desire to be involved in the street actions in Madrid and from Mosca's search for her brother, who was disappeared after helping

May 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the aftermath of Franco’s death, this is a mostly compelling and illuminating portrait of young people trying to find their way in a country that still has to come to terms with its Fascist past and in which Franco’s legacy is still alive and strong. Youthful rebellion is everywhere and when a fight turns ugly and a policeman is killed the four main protagonists are forced to flee their hometown and go on the road. It’s never very clear what they are hoping to find on their journey and in ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes’ first-time novel follows the adventures and misadventures of a small group of college age friends, the focus of which is Mosca, a rebellious young woman whose parents and brother were murdered by Spain’s Fascist security forces. Drifting from protest to protest and dingy bar to dingy bar across Spain, Mosca’s small band of misfits passionately yet aimlessly stumble about fueled by a steady diet of drugs, alcohol, Marxist-flavored radical politics and early punk music.

Joy Clark
Note: I hate writing reviews of books that don't wow me. It feels wrong to criticize art, something that the author has likely poured her heart into and fretted over for years. Perhaps it's my own defensiveness toward criticism (I don't take it well, although I'm getting better with age). Let's face it, I would never make it in the literature world.

Also on the self-realization note, one of my pet peeves in literature is overdone imagery and symbolism, or as I have described it in the past, "met
Teens caught up in the middle of Spain's turbulent period between Democracy & Dictatorship. Mosca, a young university student, gets involved with some friends during a protest & a policeman is hurt. They just know they are being sought so they embark on some crazy journey. Mosca feels she is on a journey to find her young brother, who has disappeared. Most people caught during the riots were killed, however she feels he is alive & she must find him.

I understand they are fighting "for
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This book was a bit of a struggle for me. I do not agree with many of the points of views of the characters and the main event that sets the story into motion upset me. It also felt like the story moved along very slowly. Certain parts of the story were very interesting to me. It was interesting to see how friendship and loyalty can be very different things. How a promise can change the course of your life and make you go on a journey you never thought of going on.

I would recommend this book fo
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I downloaded this book as a suggestion for my book club in Torrox. We try to read at least one Spanish author and a book that takes place in Spain every year. Was intriged by the reviews online. Takes place in Salamanca, Madrid, Paris and Cadiz. Young author, Cuban American, this is her debut novel. She writes beautifully...underlined a lot of passages and will go back and read it again some day. Check out this interview with the author. It gives good background info: ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5?? Poetic, and I loved the exploration of Spain's leaving fascism, and the role of alienated protesters. But somehow it didn't cohere. On the one hand her loss, as portrayed in her passivity made sense; on the other hand, she was so passive it seemed unrealistic--or they were just too cool. Who really lives for months in a room without getting the hell out. And yet youthful being lost made sense too....Akin to Ferrante's exploration of radical Italy.
I'm admitting that I'm not going to finish this book. I didn't exactly like it, but I did appreciate it. Many reviewers talk about how nihilistic the main characters are. In my view, it's not that they're nihilistic. It's that they're dealing with deep personal and cultural grief, deep losses that they can't talk about openly. If you look beyond the surface, there's so much more here than punk, anarchist young people.
Kerry Pickens
A chaotic tale with lots of arguing and politics, and not much plot or character development. There is probably an audience for this book, but it wasn't me. I agree with their politics, but the story was very predictable young adult tale where one of them dies before the end of the book.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun book for me. The characters were intriguing, the plot kept up a good pace, and the writing style was well done. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Sleeping World is a beautifully written book about some of the ugliest of human behavior. It takes place in Spain, for the most part, in 1977 after Franco dies. The generals who staged the coup want to clean up the loose ends— the dissidents, mostly students—in anticipation of war crimes trials when the country becomes a democracy. College student Moska (fly in Spanish) and three other disaffected punk students are afraid for their lives because one of them assaulted a policeman; a fifth per
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sleeping World has a multi-layered title. It describes the ghosts that surround the main character Mosca. She chases after the shadow of her missing brother, as the ghosts of her country chase her. In this pivitol moment in history, Mosca is engulfed by Spain's history, and the void left by those who went missing in the 1970s riots.

The title also speaks to Mosca herself, in a daze through most of the novel despite traveling a long physical distance from home. She's frozen in time from the m
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of a group of young people in Spain, each experiencing their own transition and upheaval while the entire country is going through its own political upheaval. The infamous dictator had just died, and no one knew what was going to happen next. After decades of secret police, disappearances, deaths and a stark contrast between the lives of the rich, fascists and the rest of the population, no one seems sure of the future of Spain at this time. Reading the book encouraged ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With the poignant opening quotes, you know the Sleeping World will be a heavy-hitter. Fuentes' eloquent and substantial writing is at times outweighed by the raw and complacent youth. Beginning with Mosca, the playacting punk who drinks alcohol with a gob of saliva floating on the top, tags her name on city walls before throwing a drink on preening girl. Mosca who hides by a bandanna as she beats down a cop. You Punk, you. For which she has to flee, but than hiding-out becomes a voyage to find ...more
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Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes is a writer and teacher. Her first novel, The Sleeping World, will be published by Simon & Schuster (Touchstone) in 2016. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in One Story, Slice, Pank, The Collagist, Tweed’s, NANO Fiction, Western Humanities Review, The Yoke, SpringGun, and elsewhere.

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in Spain and France.
“My murdered poets drew from deep wells, even if they were presently hidden from me. They spoke the same words as the monks, as the Conquistadores, as our Dictator General, but coaxed a language anew from the charred bones they’d been tossed. I had taken comfort that we had been lying for millennia, erasing whole races of writers, executing texts with aplomb. It wasn’t new. And someone had always been pressing hidden words from quill to parchment backed by stone. Whispering them into someone’s ear. Even if the parchment was burned and the hand chopped off and thrown into the same fire, the stone remained. Only there were the words legible.” 2 likes
“And I listed the cities he said he’d been—Madrid, Granada, San Sebastián, Barcelona, Paris even. Their order was confused but their names made a map of lights in my mind. A constellation leading not back but far. Each a whole world I’d never been, swallowed him up and spewed him back, crustaceans in his pocket and seaweed in his hair, on the shores of our prison town. I considered the cities he talked about not destinations but destructions. A chosen wreckage. Different only in that way from the one handed to us.” 1 likes
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