Snippet: “Tell a Story” – a project to promote literature among tourists

This blogger loves the picture of a bookvan (mobile bookstore) in Lisbon (Belém?). It made the news in the summer of 2013, as it visited different sights to promote Portuguese authors among foreign tourists:

“In Cais do Sodré the tourists can meet O Memorial do Convento [Baltasar and Blimunda] by José Saramago. In Príncipe Real it is time for Eça de Queirós (1845-1900, Wikipedia) and his classic Os Maias [The Maias]. In Belém, to come across Fernando Pessoa and his Desassossego [The Book of Disquiet]. Translated into English, French, Spanish and German, the books by José Cardoso Pires (1925-1998, Wikipedia), Jacinto Lucas Pires (Porto, 1974, +info), Gonçalo M. Tavares and Miguel Torga (1907-1995, Wikipedia) are also some of those available in this van.” (Marta Spínola Aguiar)

You can read more about the project on its website.

SOURCES: Espalha factos, Aug. 1, 2013; Tell a Story (website)

Snippet: William Egginton’s “The Man Who Invented Fiction”

The Man Who Invented Fiction

William Egginton, The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World, 2016, 272 p.

The publisher’s summary can be found here, where there are also some snippets of peer reviews; some reviews by the general press (gist: they like the book though they doubt its central thesis):

Kirkus Review, Oct. 4, 2015

The Times, June 11, 2016

The Spectator, June 18, 2016

The Guardian, July 23, 2016


While the blogger intended to read a review (cf. source) of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s fifth volume of the My struggle series of which he is a somewhat enthusiastic follower, he stumbled on this book on Cervantes – timely published in the Cervantes year… The Atlantic review by Nicholas Dames (Columbia U) turned out to be an interesting article on the modern novel in general.

SOURCE: The Atlantic, April 16, 2016; Bloomsbury (publisher)

Snippet: Anna Carreras’ “French shadows”

Portada llibre Ombres franceses, el cep i la nansa, la cram

Anna Carreras, Ombres franceses [French shadows], 2016, 118 p.

Publisher’s summary:

Young Juliette Lavelle’s life passes peacefully between her Montmartre apartment and the classes at Sorbonne university where she studies Eastern art and literature. Between the infuriating dialogues with her professor, the dazzle she feels for a crazy poet, and the phone conversations with her psychoanalyst, Juliette writes a short story to compete for the Epimenides prize of Logical Paradoxes.

The plot is no other than that of a story that is submitted for a prize and then wins it unanimously. All the characters in this choral work that develops as it unfolds have a shadow upon them. Everybody watches everybody else.

Nothing is what is seems. Everything has got a double face, a false bottom and two viewpoints. Nothing white or black: that which triumphs here is a scale of greys beneath the pink sky of a Paris sunset. An ingeniously brilliant woman, an obtuse professor with a recurring psoriasis, a trickster and womanizing poet, a well-matched jury, a semi-crazy psychoanalyst, and some essential supporting actors shape this aparently quiet nouvelle that transforms into a thriller where the living and the dead form part of the same game of chess.

Anna Carreras i Aubets (Barcelona, 1977). Author of the novels Camisa de foc [Shirt of fire; 2008], Tot serà blanc [Everything will be white; Alexandre Ballester prize 2008], and Unes ales cap a on [Wings where to; 2011], she now translates novels and writes poetic articles that are published weekly by the press. Of her essay work there stand out El cervell i les venes [The brain and the veins; 2005] and Altaió i Vinyoli in “Santa Follia de Sèr Càntic” [Holy Madness of Being Chant; 2014], centered on the poetics of postmodernism.


SOURCE: El cep i la nansa (publisher)

Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, writer

Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (Rome, 1927) is a Spanish writer with a short and somewhat “strange” list of works if it comes to novels. The Wikipedia (in English) has got this article.

His first novel was Industrias y andanzas de Alfanhuí [translated into English as: The adventures of the ingenious Alfanhui] (1951)

Publisher’s summary:

Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio invented a child and walked with him on the paths of his new old country and wrote the most beautiful book of his time. A story full of true lies.

«Alfanhui wouldn’t have been able to say if in his eyes there was a gloomy solitude and in his ears a fathomless silence, because this music and these colours came from the other part, from where the knowledge of things never comes; transposed the first day, behind the last wall of memory, where the other memory begins: the huge memory of the unknown things.»

According to the Wikipedia it’s “the first Spanish story of magic realism”.


El Jarama [translated as: The River] (1955), Sánchez Ferlosio’s second novel, is considered his main work.

Publisher’s summary:

Nadal prize 1955

El Jarama starts a new epoch in Spanish narrative incorporating into a story of realistic appearance an absolutely realistic technique. Eleven friends from Madrid decide to spend a hot August Sunday on the shore of the Jarama [river]. From this point onwards the plot develops simultaneously in Mauricio’s tavern -where the regulars drink, discuss and play cards- and in a grove on the river shore where the excursionists settle down. During 16 hours there is a succession of baths, stinging from the sun, paellas, the first erotic dabblings, and the resentment in front of the time that is fleeting making imminent the threat of Monday. At the day’s end an unexpected event fills up the day with deep poetry and endows the novel with a strange greatness.

The Wikipedia (in Spanish) summarizes the plot as follows:

It tells the story of a group of eleven young people from Madrid who spend the day in the countryside on a hot summer Sunday. The action takes place near the Viveros bridge, on the Jarama river, where the protagonists go to take a bath and escape from the tedium of the city. On another level of the novel there develops the confrontation of two counterposed worlds, the urban working class and the rural one. As to the narrative there has been highlighted the author’s capacity to show the action in different places simultaneously, Viveros bridge and Mauricio’s tavern, as in a movie script. The narrative plot, as simple as in many examples of neorealism, breaks down at the novel’s end with the narration of a tragic event, which serves the author to strengthen his thesis on the opposition between human life’s fleetingness and the unchangeable nature of the river.


Afterwards came a long period of silence, i.e. without any publications, interpreted as a form of protest against the Franco regime, and after the dictator’s death an intense activity as an essay writer and columnist.

megustaleer - Altos Estudios Eclesiásticos (Ensayos 1) - Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio


Altos estudios eclesiásticos (Ensayos 1) [Advanced ecclesiastic studies, Essays 1], 2015, 800 p.

Publisher’s summary:

In 1955, after writing El Jarama, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio retired from circulation to immerse himself during 15 years in grammar, what he called «advanced ecclesiastic studies». This epoch of solitary studies derived into abundant writing that came to light intermittently during many years, but probably resumes better than any other the fundamental concerns of Ferlosian reflection.

This volumen, the first of four that will make up the “Collected Essays”, gathers the writings that are most directly linked to these years of dedication to grammar: Las semanas del jardín [The garden’s weeks], «Guapo» y sus isótopos [“Handsome” and its isotopes], the Glosas castellanas [Castilian comments] and the translation and notes of  Victor de l’Aveyron by Jean Itard, that are recovered after more than twenty years, among others.

«First I incurred in “prose”, i.e. la bella página [the beautiful page] (Alfanhuí); afterwards I wanted to have fun with speech (El Jarama), and finally, after many years of grammar, I found language (represented not so much in my last novel but particularly in the non-literary writings).»   Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio in La forja de un plumífero [A hack’s forge]

This blogger hasn’t read any of Sánchez Ferlosio’s works so far, and he will probably start with his writings published on the newspaper El Paíswebsite.


SOURCE: Planeta, PlanetaPenguin Random House [publishers]

Snippet: Cervantes Institute opens its digital archive

The Instituto Cervantes [for the promotion of the Spanish language and culture] has recently opened its digital archive of nearly 10,000 documents (and growing) to the public. There are five different databases that among other purposes, document the cultural and institutional activities of the first 25 years of the institute’s existence (1991-2016); one of them gives access to all the translations of Cervantes’ Quixote.

To find your way around, some notions of Spanish would be useful, though there should be audio-visual material of bilingual events held in English-speaking (and other) countries…

SOURCE: La Vanguardia, August 13, 2016, p. 30 [printed edition]

Snippet: Daniel Ruiz García’s “Everything’s fine”

Daniel Ruiz García, Todo está bien [Everything’s fine], 2015

Publisher’s summary:

The perfect conjunction of sex, politics and other excesses in scoundrel Spain.

One night, celebrating an election victory, a regional minister of public works in a good position to lead the [political] party, euphoric and after drinking too much, wants to top off the night by hiring the services of a prostitute. In the haze of next day’s hangover he remembers that he lost his wallet and his mobile phone and that the prostitute must have been a transvestite. The worlds of both of them -that of drug trade, pimping, of a ruined journalist who knows the transvestite, and that of the politician, his party, his PR staff and his family- collide through an unforeseen hazard, and above all because of the intervention by a blogger who wants to achieve a piece of impacting news in the social networks.


You can find more information on the author, screenwriter and PR specialist Daniel Ruiz García (Sevilla, 1976) on his website or in the Wikipedia article (both in Spanish only). This blogger discovered him through the TV program “Página 2” by RTVE [Spanish state television] and might read the book some day.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)

Snippet: with Jané from Cuba to Barcelona

Al caer el sol

Luis Jané, Al caer el sol [At sunset], 2016, 224 p.

Publisher’s summary:

In July 1936, María Mullor, an 18 years old Cuban disembarks in Barcelona at the very outset of the Spanish Civil War. Pregnant from a fiancé who disappeared in mysterious circumstances, she was sent to Spain to give birth and the child into adoption far away from the views of the conservative Cuban society. The vicissitudes of the war disrupt the plan, and after a few months she finds herself alone in the world because her daughter has been abducted by a militiaman. With the help of Víctor Gorría, a private detective hired by her father, she finds out her whereabouts once the war is over, only to lose track of her once again. Her daughter’s fate will remain a raw wound, and only two decades later, once back in her native Cuba, she will find the one whom to give this love held off for years. Mystery, passion, the search for her daughter Blanca and the crossroads of destinies that was the Civil War intertwine in this adventure that is set in the streets of Barcelona and the memories of a Havana inhabited by family ghosts. A story of the heart, narrated masterly , that touches anybody.

The critic Ramon Cap’s opinion: “The story catches the readers until they get to know the emotive outcome, which more than fulfills the expectations of those versed in this genre.”

The author, Luis Jané, is a professor of odontology (sic!) at Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC). On their website one can read that his first novel “is the fruit of seven long years in which the author delved into the family archive and brought to light old and well-documented stories that, told by his mother, he had thought to be false.”

This blogger will probably abstain from reading it…

SOURCE: Megustaescribir (publisher); “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, May 14, 2016, p. 8 [printed edition]; UIC