Radikal Readings: Night Train to Lisbon

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Beautiful and thoughtful book that turns your insides.

I went into Night Train to Lisbon with high expectations. The novel was on a short list of books to read that were similar to Shadow of the Wind, otherwise known as one of my favorite book of all time. No pressure.

First things first – while there are some similarities, these two novels are not really alike. Like Shadow of the Wind, it has some beautiful prose. However, Night Train to Lisbon is much more inside itself. By that I mean that it is highly philosophical and there are blocks of text from the book that main character, Raimund Gregorius is reading by Amedeu Prado, that are intense and wonderfully poetic at times.

Raimund has lived a very predictable, quiet and routine life in Bern, Switzerland, however, one day a book by the mysterious Amadeu Prado and a chance enounter with a Portuguese woman, send him on a night train to Portugal and a life-changing adventure.

There is the other similarity to Shadow of the Wind, which I guess is the major one, that they both begin with a novel and the pursuit of it’s mysterious author. Yet, Prado’s story unfurls at a much slower and anti-climatic pace.

While I didn’t feel a connection with Prado as I did with Julian Carax, I loved Raimund Gregorius. This journey to find Amadeu Prado was really a journey to find himself and lives out his missed life thru discovering Prado’s. Yes, it is long and philosophical, but it’s so lovely all at once.

Where Shadow of the Wind have me an intense desire to read everything I could get my hands on, Night Train overwhelmed me with a need to write until the words were drained from my body.

It’s a classic, large and dense novel. If philosophy, language, and history are interesting to you, you will enjoy this.

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