The Invisible City

Written by Emili Rosales Martha Tennent (trans.)
Review by Veronika Pelka

In 1759 King Charles III and his royal court moved from Naples to Spain, and with them came the engineers and architects who would build the new coastal capital. The city planned for the Ebro river delta was never completed, but Emili Rossell and his friends happily played amid its ruins as children. Now living in Barcelona, Rossell has his childhood curiosity about the Invisible City reawakened when a manuscript of the 18th-century architect Andrea Roselli anonymously arrives at his gallery. Since the memoir appears authentic, he wonders who might have sent it.

Emili Rosales artfully engrosses the reader from the first page, and with great facility parallels a young man’s contemporary story of self-discovery with the travails encountered by a similar young man involved in the building of the Invisible City, which was once believed to be only a legend. A missing masterpiece of the Venetian painter Tiepolo ties both narratives together and provides the mystery and tension that propels Rossell to compulsively search for answers.

This is a beautifully written literary work, fascinatingly told and compelling in its language. Its ending will delight and satisfy. It was translated from Catalan by Martha Tennent, and her contribution should not be overlooked. Enthusiastically recommended.