The second novel of the writer, archeologist and publisher Esther Tusquets’ daughter Milena Busquets (Barcelona, 1972) has been the number one of La Vanguardia‘s Spanish and Catalan bestsellers’ list for a few weeks in early 2015.
The publisher’s summary reads like this:
When she was a child, to help her to get over her father’s death, Blanca was told a Chinese tale by her mother. A tale about a mighty emperor who summoned the wise men and asked them for a phrase that could serve in all imaginable situations. After a few month of deliberation, the wise men came before the emperor with this phrase: “This too shall pass.” And the mother added: “Pain and grief will pass, as will pass euphoria and happiness.” Now it is Blanca’s mother who has died and this novel, that starts and ends in a cemetery, talks about the pain of loss, of the absence’s tearing. But in front of this pain there remain the memory of the lived and how much she learned, and there gains momentum the reaffirmation of life through sex, friends, the children and the men who have been and are important for Blanca who affirms: “Lightness is a form of elegance. To live with lightness and happiness is very difficult.” This and other phrases and the novel’s tone, far away from any concession to the conventional, evoque Françoice Sagan’s Bonjour tristesse that dazzled many (and scandalized quite a few) when it was published in 1954. All of this during one summer at Cadaqués with its indomitable landscapes and intense Mediterranean light that bathes it all.
Milena Busquets transforms personal experiences into literature and starting out from the intimate achieves a novel that breaks boundaries and that is being translated with unusual speed into the main languages, such as English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. And she achieves it because through Blanca’s story and her mother’s disease and death, through the relationships with her lovers and her friends, marvelously combining depth and lightness, she talks to us about universal topics: pain and love, fear and desire, sadness and laughter, the desolation and beauty of a landscape in which one fleetingly glimpses at the dead mother walking by the sea, because those we have loved cannot just disappear.
The book will be published in English by Harvill Secker (UK) and Hogarth Press (US).