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)

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Snippet: Iberian authors recently translated into English (2019)

The New York Times mentioned these in their preview of books to be published in the United States during 2019:

PORTUGAL:

Ana Luísa Amaral, What’s in a Name?, New Directions, 2019

SPAIN:

Agustin Fernández Mallo, The Nocilla Trilogy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019

This blog offers a 2017 article on Fernández Mallo’s Nocilla Dream, and a 2018 article on his winning the Biblioteca Breve prize.

 

Enrique Vila-Matas, Mac’s Problem, New Directions, 2019

There is a 2017 blog post on the Spanish original; and there are posts on Enrique Vila-Matas from 2015 and 2014.

 

And from Mozambique, not Iberain but Portuguese-speaking…

Mia Couto, Rain, and other stories, Biblioasis, 2019

 

SOURCE: New York Times, Books, January 2019

 

Snippet: Juan Gómez Jurado’s “Red Queen”

megustaleer - Reina roja - Juan Gómez-Jurado

Juan Gómez Jurado, Reina Roja [Red queen], 2018, 568 p.

publisher’s summary:

Antonia Scott is special. Very special.

She is neither police nor criminologist. She has never held a gun, nor worn a badge, but nevertheless she has solved dozens of crimes.

But for some time Antonia hasn’t left her attic in the Lavapiés district. The things she has lost are a lot more important for her than the things waiting for her outside.

She doesn’t receive visits, either. Therefore, she doesn’t like it at all when she hears some unknown steps coming up the stairs to the last floor.

Whoever it might be, Antonio is sure that they come to get her.

And this she likes even less.

from Lilian Neuman’s review:

In this new story, a small and intransigent girl opens a new and, what can already be apreciated, promising novel series.

Her presentation in society is very interesting. Alone in her detached attic of the Lavapiés neighborhood [in Madrid], extravagant and stubborn, Antonia Scott is the pearl that a policeman in conflicts has got to carefully extract. If he manages to get her out of that place, where she took refuge for reasons that will be known in due time, the cop will save himself from the punishment fallen upon him for using hardly clan methods to catch a pimp. […]

The street world is tough and needs a language that Gómez Jurado uses with humour, sarcasm, and wit.

This blogger had never before heard of the best-selling thriller author Juan Gómez Jurado (Madrid, 1977; Wikipedia), and in general he is hesitant to read authors whose style is described as “cinematographic.”

SOURCE: Ediciones B (PRH Spain, publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, Jan. 5, 2019, p. 10 [printed edition]

Snippet: Samanta Schweblin in English

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

Samanta SCHWEBLIN, Mouthful of Birds: Stories, 2009: original/2019: translation, 240 p.

There is more information @ Penguin Random House. There, you can also find the summaries two further books by the same author, Fever Dream (2014/2017) and Kentukis (2018), her second novel, to be published in English on March 5, 2019.

You can find a review of Mouthful of Birds on the website of the The New York Times, and a Wikipedia article on the author.

Snippet: “Identity problems” – a new case for Pepe Carvalho

Carlos Zanón, Carvalho: Problemas de identidad [Carvalho: identity problems], 2019, 352 p.

publisher’s summary:

Without really knowing how and why, Carvalho lives torn between Barcelona and Madrid. In Barcelona there are the remains of his tribe and the office where he continues to work. In Madrid he walks lost in the labyrinth of a woman married to a powerful national politician, and who has destabilized him more than anybody managed to before. Maybe he is getting old, or he is assaulted –like the country itself– by identity problems on all levels: Who are you, Carvalho?, What do you want?, What are you looking for? We are in 2017, and society’s tectonic plates seem to move in an unheard of manner. The usual problems, the disappearance of a prostitute, or an old female friend who comes in search of help with a bloody family crime. On a personal level, the complicity with Biscúter passes low hours, and his health is not the best news of the moment. And he still hates modern music and burns books.

2018 saw the 15th anniversary of the death of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (1939-2003),  a prolific writer and the inventor of the detective Carvalho, the series now to be continued by Carlos Zanón. According to the Wikipedia article, ten of Vázquez Montalbán’s books were translated into English, of which seven are still available on Amazon.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)

Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami!

It’s Haruki Murakami’s 70th birthday today!

This blogger is thankful to Murakami for some of his most memorable and most relaxing reading experiences. He prefers most of Murakami’s novels to his short stories, but he also likes his essays, such as What I talk about when I talk about running and What I talk about when I talk about writing, both read in Catalan in library copies.

For more information on the Japanese writer and his work, please consult the thorough Wikipedia article or his US publisher’s site.

Snippet: Cristina Morales’ “Easy reading”

Cristina Morales, Lectura fácil [Easy reading (Neither master, nor god, nor husband, nor party, nor football)], 2018, 424 p.

Premio Herralde de Novela 2018

publisher’s summary:

They are four: Nati, Patri, Marga and Àngels. They are related to each other, they have got different grades of what the Public Administration and Medicine consider “intellectual disability”, and they share a supervised apartment. They have spent a good part of their lives in RUDIS and CRUDIS (urban and rural residences for people with intellectual disability). But above all they are women with an extraordinary ability to face the conditions of domination that they suffer from. Theirs is the oppressive and bastard Barcelona: the city of the squatters, the NGO of those oppressed by their mortgage payments, the anarchist academies, and the politically correct art.

It is a radical novel in its ideas, in its form, and in its language. A cry-novel, a politicizing novel that crosses voices and texts: a fanzine that puts in check the neoliberal system, the minutes of a libertarian assembly, the declarations before a court that wants to sterilize one of the protagonists by force, the autobiographic novel written by one of them with the Easy Reading technique…

This book is a battlefield: against the monogamous and white hetero-patriarchy, against the institutional and capitalist rhetoric, against the activism clad in “the alternative” to shore up the status quo. But it is also a novel that celebrates the body and sexuality, the desire of and between women, the dignity of those marked with the stigma of disability, and the trangressive and revolutionary capacity of language. It is above all a visceral, vibrant, combative and feminist portrait of contemporary society with the city of Barcelona as its stage.

Lectura fácil confirms Cristina Morales [Granada, Andalucía, 1985] as one of the most powerful, creative, nonconformist and innovative voices of contemporary Spanish literature.

from Carlos Pardo’s review:

[Earlier novels by Cristina Morales:] Los combatientes [The fighters] (2013), Terroristas modernos [Modern terrorists] (2017)

Cristina Morales already was an essential writer to understand a lot of paths with no return of the contemporary novel, but she hadn’t written any book yet at the height of her ambition. This is Lectura fácil, …

Morales’ genius is manifest from the first pages, in the same manner as her intuition to turn such difficult material … into a hilarious Beckett-like novel, funny but also very sad… Because Morales seems to like getting out of the dead end streets into which any risky narrative decision could take her. […]

[F]or a long time there hasn’t appeared any work more realistic in its social discourse and less conventionally realistic in its writing. One could also say that this is the first really original novel of this lengthy state of exception and resistance named with a euphemism: crisis. Therefore, Lectura fácil is a milestone of the recent Spanish novel.

You can read more on Cristina Morales in the first post on the 2018 Herralde prize, dated Nov. 15, 2018.

SOURCE: Anagrama (publisher); review in “Babelia,” El País, Jan. 5, 2019, p. 5 [printed edition]

Snippet: Best books Spain 2018 (La Vanguardia)

The Spanish daily La Vanguardia asked its own critics and culture journalists for their opinions and published lists of different categories;  following here are the Top 5 in Catalan and Spanish fiction, and a link to the respective blog article if there is one.

CATALAN FICTION:

  1. Eva Baltasar, Permagel, article
  2. Sergi Pàmies, L’art de portar gavardina, article
  3. Irene Solà, Els dics [The dams]
  4. Pol Beckmann, Novel·la [Novel]
  5. Núria Cadenes, Secundàris, article

SPANISH FICTION:

  1. Manuel Vilas, Ordesa, article
  2. Sara Mesa, Cara de pan, article
  3. Álvaro Enrigue, Ahora me rindo y eso es todo, article
  4. Antonio Soler, Sur, article
  5. Samanta Schweblin, Kentukis

SOURCE: La Vanguardia, Dec. 22, 2018, p. 44 [printed edition]