The Strangers

The Strangers

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By Jon Bilbao

Translated by Katie Whittemore

ISBN: 9781628974553

Publication Date: 2/21/23

A Spanish-gothic version of a Patricia Highsmith novel

Jon and Katharina spend the winter in Jon’s childhood home on the Cantabrian coast, lonely and bored, ambivalent about their precarious freelance jobs and disconnected in their relationship. Yet the couple’s routine will soon be disturbed when one rainy night, they witness strange lights in the sky over the village. The next morning, ufologists begin to arrive in the village, anxious to make extraterrestrial contact. The morning brings other unexpected guests: Jon's distant cousin, Markel, and his companion, the silent, alluring Virginia. The visit becomes increasingly uncomfortable as—like the ufologists camped out in view of the house—the strangers stay on and show little sign of planning to leave. Days stretch into weeks, even as the cousins can't remember ever having met, Virginia’s behavior becomes subtly threatening, and Jon begins doubt that Markel is who he says he . . .  A deliciously tense and darkly humorous novella that explores the border that separates love from routine and offers a twist on theme of “the other” and how to live with the unknown, The Strangers introduces English readers to singular talent.


"[Bilbao's] work is rooted in capability rather than certainty. What he doesn’t explain is as thrilling as what he does." —Words Without Borders

"Equal parts delightful and discomfiting, a distinctive approach to the science-fiction gothic." —Kirkus Reviews

"A thrilling account of a strange disruption to a couple’s monotonous life." —Publishers Weekly

“To speak of Jon Bilbao is to speak of one of the most important figures in Spanish narrative of the twenty-first century and, in particular, of the short distances of the story.”—Marcos Gendre, Mondo Sonoro

“Mixing the everyday with the extraordinary doesn't always work, but Jon Bilbao manages to do it without having to write 400 pages . . .”—Pilar Martin, Hola News

“. . . Bilbao dominates like few others in Spanish letters.”—Paula Corroto, El Confidencial

Biographical Information

Jon Bilbao is the author of the short story collection Como una historia de terror (Ojo Critico Prize for Narrative), Under the Influence of the Comet (Tigre Juan Prize and Euskadi Prize for Literature) and Family Physics, and Stromboli; as well as the novels The Brother of the FliesParents, Children and Primates (Other Voices Award, Other Areas), Shakespeare and the White Whale, and Basilico (Navarra Bookstore Prize). The Strangers is his latest novel. He currently resides in Bilbao, where he works as a translator.  

Katie Whittemore translates from the Spanish. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (BA), Cambridge University (M.Phil), and Middlebury College (MA), as well as a 2018 Bread Loaf Translators Conference participant. Her work has appeared in Two Lines, The Arkansas International, The Common Online, Gulf Coast Magazine Online, The Brooklyn Rail, and InTranslation. Her current projects include novels by Spanish authors Sara Mesa, Javier Serena, Aliocha Coll, Lara Moreno, Juan Gomez Barcena, and Aroa Moreno Durán. Whittemore lives in Valencia, Spain, and received an NEA Fellowship for Translation in 2022.