Snippet: Lídia Jorge wins Iberian culture prize

The Portuguese writer Lídia Jorge (Boliqueime, Algarve, 1946; Wikipedia) is the winner of the Prémio Luso-Espanhol de Arte e Cultura 2014 (Portuguese-Spanish Art and Culture Prize 2014), endowed with 75,000 EUR and awarded bi-annually since 2006 by the Spanish and Portuguese ministries of culture to artists that work for the mutual understanding of and good relations between the cultures of the two countries of the Iberian peninsula. The picture shows the cover of Jorge’s latest book, “Memorial”.

SOURCE: Diário de Notícias, Nov. 27, 2014; MECD (Spanish ministry of culture)


Javier Cercas’ “El impostor”

The publisher’s summary:

A fascinating novel without fiction saturated with fiction; the fiction part doesn’t come from the author: it comes from Enric Marco.

Who is Enric Marco? It is a man in his nineties from Barcelona who pretended to be a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and who was exposed in May 2005, after presiding for three years over the Spanish association of survivors, giving hundreds of talks and dozens of interviews, receiving important medals and moving in some cases to tears the Spanish parliamentarians that had assembled to honour for the first time the Republicans deported by the Third Reich. The case went around the world and converted Marco into the big impostor and the big disgraced. Now, nearly one decade later, Javier Cercas besieges, in this hipnotic thriller that is also a banquet with a lot of courses -narrative, chronicle, essay, biography and autobiography-, the character’s enigma, his truths and falsehoods and, through this inquiry that covers nearly one century of the history of Spain, with a kamikaze’s passion and a piercing honesty dives into the deepest of our own: into our limitless capacity for delusion, into our conformism and our lies, into our unquenchable thirst for affection, into our counterposed necessities of fiction and reality, into the most painful areas of our recent past. The result is a book that doesn’t talk about Enric Marco but about you, reader; also the most rebellious and radical book by Javier Cercas: an astonishing book, with an unprecedented audacity, it widens the limits of the novel genre and explores the last frontiers of our humanity.

“We also love Cercas more after this book that reads quickly and is hard to forget.” José-Carlos Mainer, El País

This blogger liked Outlaws (Las leyes de la frontera), cf. post, the preceding novel by Javier Cercas (Ibahernando, 1962; Wikipedia); four of his novels have been translated into English so far.

Update March 15, 2018:

This novel, published as The Impostor in English (publisher information) has been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018.


SOURCE: El País, Nov. 17, 2014; Random House; MacLehosePress

Snippet: the duchess of Alba and publishing

Inka Martí and Jacobo Siruela (c) Atalanta

This post’s title is somewhat misleading. The duchess of Alba who died recently (see e.g. The Guardian‘s obituary) was herself the object of a lot of yellow press publishing but not a known publisher herself, as far as this blogger knows. But her third son, Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, count of Siruela, aka Jacobo Siruela (Madrid, 1954; Spanish Wikipedia) is a writer, graphic designer, gardener and, foremost, has been a successful publisher with the Siruela (until 2005) and Atalanta (since 2005) publishing houses. Thus, he made a lot of 20th century thinkers and classics known to Spanish readers. More information in English on Atalanta‘s homepage.

This blogger became aware of the “importance” of Siruela because they were the first to publish Fred Vargas’ crime novels in Spanish.

Snippet: Cervantes prize 2014 to Juan Goytisolo

Juan Goytisolo (Barcelona, 1931; Wikipedia) is the 2014 Cervantes prize winner.

According to the jury Goytisolo was chosen for “his investigative capacity in language and complex stylish propositions, developed in different literary genres; for his willingness to integrate the two shores, the heterodox Spanish tradition and his permanent commitment to intercultural dialogue.” (from the official press release by the Spanish ministry of culture)

El País offers this article in English. lists nine titles by Goytisolo as available in English.

SOURCE: El País, Nov. 24, 2014

Alexandra Lucas Coelho’s Sunday lover

José Riço Direitinho, in Público, heaps praise on Alexandra Lucas Coelho’s O meu amante de domingo [My Sunday lover].

The publisher’s summary:

A woman is determined to kill a man, between her home in the Alentejo and her Sunday trips to Lisbon. For one month, between June 16 and July 16, 2014, we follow the torture plans, the book she decides to write and the different complices: lovers, friends, alive and dead. The target of her revenge is a cowboy, more often called f*cker or motherf***er, because she is a tripe eater [?] from Canidelo [neighborhood in the northern Portuguese town of Vila Nova de Gaia].

Riço Direitinho’s review, entitled “Liberdade e raiva” [Freedom and rage], starts as follows:

A unique character in recent Portuguese literature: a 50 year old woman, blonde, a proofreader by profession, a newcomer to the Alentejo region who drives her 1994 Lada Niva [mini-] SUV to Lisbon on Sundays to look after the cat of a friend (away in Rio de Janeiro), to swim, and have romantic encounters with a mechanic, her Sunday lover. She plans the death (“Wheel?, Garrote? Crushing by elephant’s foot?”) of a man 16 years younger than her (the “cowboy”) with whom she was involved for one month, and she wants to write the story of this vengeance that will gradually develop. “No matter who the guy is or what he did, but the hole that opened. (…) The hole closes with everything inside, and the details of what happened will fade as burned skin, because the new skin has a hazy memory of the former, as in the the memories a grandson has of his grandfather’s wars. What stands out clearly is vengeance, vengeance for having been abused, vengeance of honor.” If one wants to compare her to another character it could be, though somewhat forced, to Maria dos Canos Serrados of Ricardo Adolfo’s homonymous novel; the similarities are mainly that of language and a desperate desire for freedom.

The are an anger and a rage, born in the summer of 2014, that have Portugal as their cause. There is a willingness to fight resignation, against the traditional acceptance of tragedy that has long gripped the country.

The reviewer describes the book as entertaining, with a lot of short chapters and references to the chronicles by Nelson Rodrigues, or to Machado de Assis, Euclides da Cunha or Joyce. He sees it in the 20th century tradition of “plasticity of narrative language” as exemplified by Carlos de Oliveira, Nuno Bragança, José Cardoso Pires, some works of Augusto Abelaira, and the singular voice of Maria Velho da Costa.

More information on the journalist and writer Alexandra Lucas Coelho (Lisbon, 1967) can be found here. None of her previous six books has been translated into English yet.

SOURCE: Público, Nov. 21, 2014; Wook

Snippet: Toni Hill’s lovers from Hiroshima

The third and final part of Hill’s crime trilogy recently reached the bookstores, Los amantes de Hiroshima [The lovers from Hiroshima].

The publisher’s summary:

May 2011. In an abandoned house near the airport the police discovers two corpses wrapped in a flower shroud. Embraced. Buried next to a heap of money. It could be a young couple that disappeared seven years earlier. After a venturesome and mediatic trial, the case was shut erroneously. Héctor Salgado and his team take up the investigation, a puzzle with too many leads. At the same time, in the main squares of the country the indignados [“occupy”] make it their aim to finally reveal the power’s real face. Héctor, closer than ever to the police officer Leire Castro in his search for his exwife, has to dig where he never imagined he would have to dig, until he reaches the dark origin of Ruth’s disappearance, until he gets to a truth of tragic and unpredictable consequences.

The two earlier novels of the Héctor Salgado series are available in English, The Summer of Dead Toys: A Thriller and The Good Suicides: A Thriller. This blogger read the first one and liked it.

More information on Toni Hill (Barcelona, 1966), though slightly dated, can be found at the Wikipedia.

SOURCE: El País, November 19, 2014; Penguin Random House

“For the pleasure of reading”: a biography of Beatriz de Moura by Juan Cruz

Probably it is not a biography in a strict sense, Juan Cruz’ Por el gusto de leer. Beatriz de Moura, editora por vocación [For the pleasure of reading. Beatriz de Moura, editor by vocation], a result of conversations with de Moura (Rio de Janeiro, 1939), the recently retired editorial director of Tusquets publishing house.

The publisher’s summary:

Juan Cruz presents a large conversation on the professional experience and vicissitudes of Beatriz de Moura, founder and editor of Tusquets during 45 years. In this conversation there are narrated the origins, difficulties and successes of putting together a catalogue and sustaining it during decades.  There is drawn an unusual editorial path in our tradition, that is born from a vocation but also from a taste for reading. What caused this catalogue to “look” like the young woman that at the end of the 1960s decided to start this adventure? This books explains the key factors and at the same time draws a first person approximation at the recent literary and cultural history.

Carles Geli, in El País, summarizes de Moura’s successful career as a combination of hard work, a good ear (instinct) and a pinch of luck.

A short biography of Juan Cruz (Puerto de la Cruz, 1948) can be found here.

SOURCE: El País, Nov. 18, 2014; Tusquets