The Boys by Toni Sala

The Boys by Toni Sala

publication and promotion supported by the Institut Ramon Llull


“Altogether brilliant.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Toni Sala’s short novel begins as a meditation on death, morphs into an interrogation of contemporary bankruptcies, and culminates in one the most profound and disturbing artistic visions ever written. This book stunned me in a way that I will recover from as a different person than I was when I picked it up.” — Elise Blackwell, author of Hunger and The Lower Quarter
“Beautifully composed, The Boys (winner of Catalonia’s highest literary award) heralds a stirring, unique new voice in English translation. Sala’s novel, set in an age of increasing detachment and anxiety, espies unflinchingly the tenuous connections and moral ambiguities of modern life. With vivid characters, confident prose, and a heady mix of style and substance, The Boys deserves major attention from devotees of international literature (and especially fans of António Lobo Antunes, Javier Marías, Gonçalo Tavares, and Roberto Bolaño).” — Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books

“Sala is a master of meditation, and the excitement and intrigue are never sacrificed despite digressive passages on Internet alienation, art, violence, phrases of grief, the Spanish recession, and love. One hopes this tremendous novel, already an award-winner overseas, will receive the attention it deserves here.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The Boys confirmed that what I believe to be literature is still possible. . . . A masterpiece.”
— Narcís Comadira, Ara

“Sala creates an exercise in style that meditates on our most primal identity.”
Time Out Barcelona

“The best he’s ever written: powerful prose packed with emotion and reflection and striking images.” — Matthew Tree, El Punt Avui

“A great novel that reflects the world we live in.”

“Although we may not realize it as we’re reading, we’re descending into the circles of hell.”
— Bernat Puigtobella, Núvol


“During the last 15 years, Catalan literature has produced few voices of such strength.
La Vanguardia


The once-bucolic Catalonian village of Vidreres has been ravaged by a harsh recession, and now two of its young men have died in a horrible car crash. As the town attends the funeral, a banker named Ernest heads to the tree where they died, trying to make sense of the tragedy. There he meets a brutish trucker, who in between Internet hookups and trips to prostitutes has taken a liking to Iona, the fiancée of one of the dead boys. Iona might be just what he needs to fix his tawdry life, but she’s mixed up with an artist who makes frightening projects. Masterfully conjuring the voices of each of these four characters, Toni Sala entwines their lives and their feelings of guilt, fear, and rage over an unspeakable loss.

Long known as one of Spain’s most powerful authors, Toni Sala is at his mischievous best here, delivering a sinister, fast-moving tale laced with intricate meditations on everything from social networks to Spain’s economic collapse to the mysterious end that awaits us all. The Boys is a startlingly honest vision of the things we’ll do in order to feel a little less alone in this world.

Toni Sala is the author of over a dozen novels and works of nonfiction. In 2005 he was awarded the National Literature Prize by the Catalan government, and he has also received many other honors for his writing. He lives in Barcelona.

Mara Faye Lethem’s translations have appeared in The Best American Non-Required Reading, Granta, The Paris Review, Words Without Borders, and McSweeney’s. She is the translator of Papers in the Wind by Eduardo Sacheri, Wonderful World by Javier Calvo, and others. She lives in Barcelona.