Sánchez Piñol, Albert 1965–
Sánchez Piñol, Albert 1965–
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
ADDRESSES: Home—Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 19 Union Sq. W., New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Anthropologist and writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Ojo Critico Narrativa prize, 2003, for La piel fría.
Pallassos i monstres: la història tragicòmica de 8 dictadors africans (short stories), Edicions La Campana (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.
Les edats d'or, Proa (Barcelona, Spain), 2001.
La piel fría (novel), Edicions La Campana (Barcelona, Spain), 2002, translation by Cheryl Leah Morgan published as Cold Skin, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of Compagnie difficile, Literalia, 2000. Contributor to many journals. Novel La piel fría has been translated into fifteen languages.
SIDELIGHTS: Anthropologist Albert Sánchez Piñol became an internationally renowned novelist with the publication in 2002 of La piel fría. Originally composed in Catalan, the author's native language, the English translation, Cold Skin, was released in 2005. The novel begins when an unnamed narrator is dropped off on a desolate Antarctic island to spend a year as a weather official, recording wind conditions. He intends to relieve the current weather official of his post, but when the narrator arrives, he finds no one on the island but a man named Gruner, the island's insane and hostile lighthouse keeper. On his first night, the narrator discovers the reason for his new companion's psychosis: every night, indigenous humanoid sea creatures emerge from the cold waters and attempt to wipe out the island's human inhabitants. The narrator and Gruner unwillingly become allies as they engage in a nightly fight for their lives against the terrible Sitauca, who have "eyes like eggs, pupils like needles, holes instead of noses, no eyebrows, no lips, [and] a huge mouth." Only one poses no threat: the submissive Aneris, a female Sitauca whom Gruner has trained and taken as a lover. The narrator is also lured into love by the tame creature, and he eventually attempts to befriend the Sitauca families, much to Gruner's scorn, which results in a violent end for one of the characters.
In Library Journal, reviewer Jack Shreve described Cold Skin as "a gripping and multifaceted allegory certain to be savored by many readers of intellectual fiction." Booklist contributor Debi Lewis called the book "a dizzying, surreal account," and went on to comment that though parts of the book are "heavy-handed,… it is still gruesomely riveting." One Publishers Weekly contributor likened the novel to an H.G. Wells tale, commenting that with its "elegant" sentences, the book "offers a tightly crafted allegory of human brutality both fascinating and repellent." In similar praise, a Kirkus Reviews contributor compared Cold Skin to a darker version of Robinson Crusoe, adding that, "for a novel that is as much parable as it is thriller, its impact is surprisingly emotional."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2005, Debi Lewis, review of Cold Skin, p. 66.
Entertainment Weekly, November 4, 2005, Gilbert Cruz, review of Cold Skin, p. 79; December 30, 2005, Jennifer Reese, "Literature of the Year," review of Cold Skin, p. 148.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2005, review of Cold Skin, p. 939.
Library Journal, September 15, 2005, Jack Shreve, review of Cold Skin, p. 57.
New York Times Book Review, December 11, 2005, Marcel Theroux, "At the Bottom of the World," review of Cold Skin, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, August 15, 2005, review of Cold Skin, p. 27.
Canongate Books Web site, http://www.canongate.net/ (January 23, 2006), "Albert Sánchez Piñol."
Esquire Online, http://www.esquire.com/ (November 30, 2005), Anna Godbersen, "Surreal World," review of Cold Skin.