Barrio de Maravillas / The Maravillas District
Novel , 1976
The Maravillas District (Barrio de maravillas, 1976) is the first novel in an autobiographical trilogy and the finest of Chacel's works to date. Proustian in its use of memory (yet unique in style), it traces two girls' discovery of their artistic and intellectual vocations, focusing less on the social and cultural obstacles to women's self-realization –though these are present– than on the invicible impulses of imagination and intellect in these girls' lives and on the enabling power of their mutual support. In its English translation it will rank alongside Virginia Woolf's and Sylvia Plath's autobiographical works depicting the woman artist's experience.
“The great accomplishment here is the way in which Chacel makes mundane events wonderful. . . . Chacel shows herself at each turn to be a master stylist in full control of her story.” Publishers Weekly
“The Maravillas District is dense like pudding-thick Spanish hot chocolate: it is not an ‘easy read’ but the power and excitement of the prose can be addicting.” Review of Contemporary Fiction
“A rich lode of insights and epigrams, to be mined from challenging prose, that celebrates the cerebral rather than the diurnal. An easy read not—but well worth the effort.” Kirkus
“The Maravillas District is an invitation, bidding the reader to actively elicit its tale.” Belles Lettres