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Espionage's personal costs

Berta Island
Forfatter: Javier Marias
Forlag: Penguin Books (England)
Javier Marías' writing has a strong anti-authorial nerve that is subtle and without illusions.


Those who have seen the series The Office at NRK, has gained a good insight into how agents juggle identities for survival, while defending society and the state against terrorist attacks and counter-espionage. The means and methods used are many, that is, amoral, and a good agent also manages to adapt to new environments quickly, including by constantly using new identities. In his great trilogy Tu rostro mañanas (in English: Your Face Tomorrow) Javier Marías addressed the topic of espionage, and i Berta Island he returns to the world of spies.

The main character Berta Isla is married to the young girlfriend Tomás Nevinson, who is Spanish-English, linguistically gifted and also a brilliant imitator – in fact so good that he could have gone straight into the entertainment industry. He and Berta get engaged before heading to Oxford to study. There he is subjected to a plot and forced recruitment into MI6: as a linguist and with an extreme ability to slip into roles and identities he is perfectly suited to foreign assignments.

María's writing often touches on the theme "the individual versus the state".

Here the book could still be like a traditional spy novel, but Marías shifts the perspective and lets Berta take over the story. We are drawn into her life, with a husband who has been away for long periods on secret missions he can not tell anything about, since everything he reveals,. . .

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Kurt Sweeney
Literary critic.

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