The Barcelona Brothers by Carlos Zanon

Spain is so much in the news now, with its economic problems, that it was a remarkable experience to read this account of the underbelly of Spanish culture. The society we are introduced to is multi-ethnic and only slightly prejudiced against foreigners. The Dalmau brothers are drug-abusers, Epi beats his ex-girlfriend, and he kills his rival, Tanveer, a Moroccan, with a hammer and gets away when the witnesses convince the police a Pakistani (who turns out to be a petty criminal) did it. One of the most harrowing scenes is Tanveer’s rape and beating of a prostitute in the bank of a van driven by Epi. The girlfriend, Tiffany, meanwhile, is a negligentful mother, insensitive to her shy, slow sister, and downright nasty to Epi who loves her beyond reason. Furthermore, the police are clueless about what is actually happening.

The murder takes place in the first few pages. The book gives us flashbacks to explain the whys and wherefores, but otherwise seems rather claustrophobic. The majority of the book takes place in Tanveer’s apartment in which Epi keeps Tiffany and her son, Percy, prisoner. It seems no one will ever leave that apartment. Thank heaven for cell phones; it seems little would have actually happened in this book.

I read the book until the end; what will happen in these characters’ lives next is anyone’s guess.

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