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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

No Word From Gurb

by
Eduardo Mendoza


general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase No Word From Gurb



Title: No Word From Gurb
Author: Eduardo Mendoza
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990 (Eng. 2007)
Length: 158 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: No Word From Gurb - US
Sin noticias de Gurb - US
No Word From Gurb - UK
No Word From Gurb - Canada
No Word From Gurb - India
Sans nouvelles de Gurb - France
Nichts neues von Gurb - Deutschland
Sin noticias de Gurb - España
  • Spanish title: Sin noticias de Gurb
  • Translated by Nick Caistor
  • First published in serial form in El Pais

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Our Assessment:

B : good fun, some inspired touches

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       No Word From Gurb is narrated by an alien, part of a two-man crew that land on earth on an exploratory mission. The other member of the crew -- lower-ranking, but responsible for most of the tasks on board, making the narrator somewhat dependent on him -- is Gurb. After taking on human form -- which they can do, with some effort -- Gurb hitches a ride and disappears, thereafter making practically no effort to report back to his nominal commander. Hence the narrator's refrain: "No word from Gurb", which proves to be the case for most of the novel.
       The next day the narrator goes in search of Gurb, but he proves neither as adaptable nor as adept as Gurb; losing his head (literally) is only one of his problems ..... The narrator has extraterrestrial powers, which allow him to change appearance (though not always to hold that appearance) and he takes on some unusual guises. He also manages to manipulate electronics, allowing him, for example, to set up a bank account with more funds than he could ever need. Still, he's pretty slow on the uptake regarding many terrestrial things, and causes numerous minor and major messes. Mendoza maintains his incomprehension nicely through the text, treating the commonplace and the completely extraordinary all the same, to good comic effect.
       They're in Barcelona, which is caught up in the Olympic build-up (for 1992), and part of the fun Mendoza has is in skewering the rampant speculation and mismanagement of the times. The narrator takes everything as given: whatever the situation is, he assumes that's what's normal -- which is amusing for the reader, given how much is, in fact, so out of kilter.
       With his enormous appetite, his attempts to help out (which usually lead to some sort of disaster), and his largely futile searches for love and Gurb, the narrator is an endearing, hapless character -- truly alien, but one that still puts on pyjamas when he goes to bed.
       Mendoza is very good on the details, though it's hardly a logically coherent set-up. Parts are very, very funny. Still, Mendoza struggles to fit it together into a real story, and it drifts away from him after a while. Letting Gurb play a more prominent role again doesn't help matters, either, and while the story is tied together in the end it feels -- especially in comparison to the sparkling bits from earlier -- somewhat uninspired.
       Still, there's lots of good fun to be had here, and the novel offers quite a few laughs.

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Links:

No Word From Gurb: Reviews: Eduardo Mendoza: Other books by Eduardo Mendoza under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author Eduardo Mendoza Garriga was born in 1943.

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© 2007-2013 the complete review

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