Last Friday the Asociación Española de Críticos Literarios [Spanish association of literary critics] and their Catalan partners (as well as the Basque and Galician ones) revealed the award winners for the best works of 2013 in Spain’s four official languages. Rafael Chirbes (cf. older post) was declared winner in Spanish, and Pep Coll’s Dos taüts negres i dos de blancs [Two black coffins and two white ones] was declared best novel in Catalan.
The publisher’s description reads like this: The massacre of a tenant farmer family in the village of Carreu in 1943 shocked the surrounding settlements and neighboring villages of the Pallars Jussà district. But the news of this multiple assassination hardly made it any farther. In a time in which there had to be presented the image of a new Spain as a paradise of peace, the censors prevented any press coverage. Seventy years later Pep Coll investigates the secrets of this terrifying event that marked his infancy at Pessonada [village name]. Initially, the story is very similar to that of the famous Kansas massacre (cf. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood), but the consequences of the Pallars’ crime were diametrically opposed: the press forgot the case, and the Franco regime’s justice system could or did not want to resolve it. Starting with the biographic exposition of the real persons involved in the events, Pep Coll offers an exceptional, full and absorbing novel. Without a doubt his most personal work.
More on Pep Coll (Pessonada, Pallars Jussà [district], 1949) in English can be found at the website of the Association of Catalan Language Writers. Comprehensive bibliographical information can be found in the Wikipedia article in Catalan.
This blogger read Coll’s Les senyoretes de Lourdes [The dames from Lourdes] a few years ago and liked it very much as Coll is very good at recreating the places and atmospheres of the stories he tells.
Source: Grup 62 page, consulted April 28, 2014