The Enormity of the Tragedy
Translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush
Quim Monzó is the foremost Catalan writer of his generation and has been translated into over a dozen languages. The Enormity of the Tragedy is regarded by many as his greatest work. At once a dirty joke and a highbrow novel, a bawdy tale and an exquisite pastiche, The Enormity . . . tells the bizarre story of Ramon Maria. Ramon Maria is a balding middle-aged widower who works as a trumpet player in a burlesque show band. He lives with a stepdaughter who hates him in a house full of books left over from his failed publishing company. One night, having finally managed to persuade the lovely Maria Eugenia, leading lady of the burlesque show, to take him home with her Ramon Maria finds himself too drunk and nervous to adequately do his duty.
Meanwhile his stepdaughter, Anna Francesca, is busy stealing Ramón
Maria’s money and discovering the first pangs of adolescent love.
When he wakes up the next day, he finds that his body has compensated for
its earlier lethargy by bequeathing the puzzled Don Juan with a massive,
permanent erection. As he struggles with the ins and outs of his new condition,
one that apparently makes him more attractive to the opposite sex than he
has ever been, Anna Francesca’s experience with men and hatred of
Ramon Maria grow concurrently until finally she resolves to kill her stepfather
and live in peace at last . . .
A straightforward résumé of the plot doesn’t do justice to a novel that has been hailed across Europe as a masterpiece of literary parody. Newcomers will find Quim Monzó’s work funny, endearing and of searing intelligence.
‘With an incomparable narrative rhythm, page after page multiplies and augments and surprises the imaginative capacity of the reader . . . Quim Monzó has managed to create a novel in which life and death are drawn with a untameable peculiarity. He has also achieved something more important: that the reader doesn’t despair and comes to trust blindly in the morality of high literature ’ – El País
‘A writer who mixes two registers: one that can be defined as realist and lyrical; the other fantastic and grotesque. Like Nabokov, Monzó possesses the talent of a virtuoso to play desperately with words and he also that bitter point of sorrow to pierce the mask of his most irreverant humour. ’ – Le Monde
‘Monzó has marshalled a parody that tends towards the grotesque and that resolves itself finally in the cruel and mocking grimace of fate. At a time that distinguishes itself through hyper-representation of itself, when exhibitionism has been converted into the only value that seems to be recognized, it is an immense irony that Monzó is proposing, this is without doubt the best of his books’ – La Vanguardia
QUIM MONZÓ was born in Barcelona in 1952. He has been awarded the National Award for fiction, the City of Barcelona Award for fiction, the Prudenci Bertrana Award for fiction, the El Temps Award for best novel, the Lletra d'Or Prize for the best book of the year and the Catalan Writers' Award, he has also been awarded Serra d'Or magazine's prestigious Critics' Award, four times.Together with Cuca Canals, he wrote the dialogues for Bigas Luna's movie Jamón, Jamón.
‘A gifted writer, he draws well on the rich tradition of Spanish surrealism to put a deliberately paranoic sense of menace in apparently mundane everyday and also to sustain the lyrical, visionary quality of his imagination’ – New York Times