This is a novel about the unexpected places where one can find refuge. This is the story of a man and a girl whose paths cross when life turns its back on them.
Alexei is forty years old and the headmaster of a school in a Ukrainian city. His wife has just left him, and his days follow the same unchanging pattern: at night he drinks until he passes out, and during the day he fights to hide his pain and misery at the school. From the window of his office he observes the students at playtime and starts to pay attention to a girl who is always alone. He soon learns that her father beats her, and she asks him for help and together they decide to stage their disappearance: Irina will spend the two years until she comes of age at Alexei’s house.
They spend the time playing long games of chess and listening to the radio which becomes the girl’s only link with an outside world that is witnessing the collapse of Communism. Those four walls that contain all the cold and all the chaos of a lost man will be the witness of this unexpected thaw while Alexei and Irina face the multiple facets of their relationship: the girl’s fear that her mother is suffering, the awkwardness he feels before an adolescent girl who will soon be a woman, the paternal instinct that has emerged unexpectedly, the incipient rebelliousness of a sweet and clever young girl or Alexei’s affectionate attempts to give the girl space for intimacy and self-discovery.
Life goes on outside the confines of Irina’s world, outside that impossible bubble, and nobody can guess what is hidden behind that cold window of that grey block of flats on that frozen street of a town that the world could barely place on a map. Nobody is aware either that the existence of the two is contained within a limbo that distances the misfortune of their arrival in that space that separates a question from its answer. When a nuclear accident that will go down in history forces them to evacuate the city, they will have to finally face up to the question that has pursued them for almost two years: Do they want to return to the real world?
This is the story of a meltdown, a mutual fascination, about the unthinkable places where we find refuge; it is about two hurt animals who invent a world where it is possible to believe that everything will be better some day.
“Devastating in almost every sense of the word: a descent into hell narrated with the efficiency of Hitchcock, and the sensitivity of Chekhov” Sergio del Molino
“A choreography of solitudes, a story that thaws out our emotions, challenges us, questions us, and makes us doubt ourselves. All the things any good writer must do.” Jose Ignacio Carnero
“Ukraine, a phantasmagorical love, the last fragments of a fading world… I could go on (and I’d love to!) but I’d rather you were left with this idea: Iñigo Redondo is a writer of absolute singularity, and he has written a fascinating debut novel. You’ll read and hear that many times, I’m sure, but this time it’s true.” Gonzalo Torné
“He has mastered both zoom and panoramic vision. Redondo has crafted a true portrait of a society, whilst at the same time meticulously analyzing its individual inhabitants.” Mercedes Cebrián
“This unknown writer will be the revelation of 2020.” El Confidencial
“We’re all going to have to remember the name Iñigo Redondo, who with All This Exists promises to be the newest sensation in Spanish literature.” Elena Hevia, El Periódico
“Two beings in freefall, clinging to one another to survive as they fall into a both marvelous and awful trap…[…] It speaks as much as it keeps silent. Forceful.” Juan Carlos Galindo, El País
“This may be a debut, but it has the strength of a classic. Something that can only be achieved with characters capable of rising above their own stories, and with a visceral and overwhelming prose.” Inés Martín Rodrigo, ABC.
“Surprising. Very strong literature and narrative audacity. Notable for its precision, the richness of the writing and a series of well‐drawn out characters. A hell of personal relationships, the hope to keep going, and a Soviet Union in agony. This book marks itself as one of the new revelations in Spanish narrative at the start of this new year, and no, that’s not just a slogan.” Antonio Lucas, RNE
SPAIN / Íñigo Redondo Barranco (Bilbao, 1975) is an internationally renowned architect whose prestige extends both within and beyond Spain. He started out on his literary career whilst developing his professional activity and he was a finalist in the poetry section of the Madrid Young Creators Competition in 2004 with his work Horas. He is the author of a book of short stories Vías de contagio and the play Nosotros, vosotros, ellos which won first prize for theatre texts in the competition celebrating the 101st anniversary of the Reina Victoria Theatre. This is his first novel.
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