From the Shadows

Though a solitary being, Damián Lobo is never fully alone, as the television interviewer that "existed only in [his] imagination" can attest. His constant interviews--complete with imagined supportive audience, commercial breaks and ratings--are interspersed with reality as he narrates every aspect of his life.

Following a minor theft at an antiques mall, Damián hides from the security guard in an empty wardrobe. Before he can escape, the wardrobe is loaded into a truck and delivered to a bungalow on the outskirts of the city. Voyeurism overtakes caution, and instead of sneaking out before he is discovered, Damián observes the small family (husband, wife and teenage daughter) as they go about their day. When he discovers a hidden closet behind the wardrobe, he makes a secret home of it, becoming like "a moray eel hiding in a crevice in the coral."

From this vantage point he spies on his unwitting hosts at night, and during the day washes their dishes, cooks their meals and makes their beds, all while leaving no trace of himself behind. The husband and teenage daughter assume the mother, Lucia, is responsible, while Lucia herself attributes the mystery to a benevolent spirit.

Translated by Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn, From the Shadows is the first book by prestigious Spanish author Juan José Millás to be published in North America. It is a penetrating parable of suburban family life that is effectively rendered through Damián's neurotic (and yet oddly discerning) imaginary interviews. Millás tells a compelling story of human connection in a way that is sometimes crude but also darkly funny, insightful and ultimately surprising. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor

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