The Sleeping World

A Novel

The Sleeping World

“A searing, beautifully written novel that captures the exhilaration and dangers of 1970s post-Franco Spain. Mosca, a bitterly jaded young woman, goes on a harrowing search for her missing brother—and the history that destroyed their lives. Violent, heartbreaking, unforgettable, The Sleeping World is a stunning debut” (Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban).

Spain, 1977. Military rule is over. Bootleg punk music oozes out of illegal basement bars, uprisings spread across towns, fascists fight anarchists for political control, and students perform protest art in the city center, rioting against the old government, the undecided new order, against the universities, against themselves…

Mosca is an intelligent, disillusioned university student, whose younger brother is among the “disappeared,” taken by the police two years ago, now presumed dead. Spurred by the turmoil around them, Mosca and her friends commit an act that carries their rebellion too far and sends them spiraling out of their provincial hometown. But the further they go, the more Mosca believes her brother is alive and the more she is willing to do to find him.

The Sleeping World is a beautiful, daring novel about youth, freedom, and doing whatever it takes to keep a family together, in a nation whose dead walk the streets and whose wars never end.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501131677 | 
  • September 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Sleeping World includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Discuss your theories about the significance of the title, The Sleeping World. Why do you think the author chose it?

2. Mosca and her friends love punk music such as Patti Smith and the Ramones. Why do you think they are drawn to punk?

3. Reflecting on her abuela’s experiences after the war and the teachings of those who have come before her, Mosca declares: “Our tongue the tongues of murderers. The general didn’t come from nowhere.” Do you agree with Mosca that Franco’s regime of oppression was inevitable and that it was fostered by Spain’s history of genocide and imperialism toward other nations?

4. Each of the main characters has a defining nickname: Mosca (Fly), La Canaria (the Canary), Grito (Scream). Discuss the author’s choice in giving nontraditional, distinctive names, and the symbolism behind them.

5. Why do you think Mosca is so intent on hiding her true reason for wanting to go to Paris? How do you think Marco and La Canar see more

About the Author

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes
Photograph © Brittainy Lauback

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes holds a BA from Brown University, an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Georgia. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and the Blue Mountain Center and a scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has lived in Spain and France and grew up in Wisconsin.