Snippet: Inma Chacón’s “Land without men”

Inma Chacón, Tierra sin hombres [Land without men], 2016, 480 p.

The publisher’s summary:

A great family saga that addresses the battle between that which is offered by destiny and that which is desired by the heart.

The sisters Elisa and Sabela are growing up in a small village near Ferrol (Galicia) where their mother, a poor milkmaid, raises them without help from her husband. Mateo, who emigrated to [South] America to start a business that never really took off, only left her his brother Manuel, deaf from birth, who with his fearful and simple kindness helps her to get ahead with her daughters.

When Rosalia begins to plan the wedding of her daughter Elisa with Eloy, the only bachelor of the village, she doesn’t expect that Sabela has fallen in love with him and that the handsome miner Martín has got other plans for Elisa.

Tierra sin hombres is a novel of characters and family intrigues framed into the Galicia of the late 19th and early 20th century, in a rainy, poor village full of superstition and gossip; a land of widows of the living, where the women see how their husbands have to emigrate in search of a better life, a dream that sometimes comes true and at other times turns against everybody.

In an interview with La Vanguardia newspaper, Chacón (Zafra, Extremadura, 1954), a poet and writer with nine published books, says that the emigration of a century ago was hard but that she thinks that today’s situation is worse, where women instead of husbands are losing their children to emigration, as a lot of young, university educated Spaniards are leaving their country for northern Europe or the Americas to find jobs that better match their qualifications, or ones that are better paid than those offered in Spain, or jobs at all…

Planeta presents this novel as “feminine literature”… their foreign rights page offers a biographical sketch. Chacón had eight siblings, all of them writers. Her twin-sister Dulce was a well-known author who died from cancer in 2003 (Wikipedia). offers Dulce Chacón’s The Sleeping Voice in English, but none of Inma’s in translation.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher); La Vanguardia, Sept. 27, 2016


Snippet: Oct. 19-23, Frankfurt book fair

This blogger has got the impression that it is getting harder every year to find non-German news coverage of the Frankfurt book fair, the world’s biggest, guests of honor: Flanders and the Netherlands, that is taking place these days… by browsing the New York Times pages, he found out that there is a Max Beckmann [German painter] exhibition in NYC right now, and that Kim Kardashian [celebrity] has produced another book full of selfies, More Me (after Selfish); from The Wall Street Journal he learned that there will be a new book by J.R.R. Tolkien soon…

In German, as you would expect, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has got a thorough coverage, fortunately without the paywall that had made an ominous appearance on their website a few weeks earlier; their competitors in search of educated newspaper readers from Munich, Süddeutsche Zeitung, has got an acceptable coverage, including videos; one of the pieces informs that the German book prize 2016, for the best novel in German published this year, is for Bodo Kirchhoff, “Widerfahrnis” [something that is happening to you] that “talks about a retired publisher who together with a chance acquaintance goes on a journey and is thereby being confronted with the refugee crisis.”

In Spanish, the Culture pages of El País give a lot of coverage to a Supreme Court sentence telling the Catalan parliament that it overstepped its competences when prohibiting bull fighting in Catalonia, thus reinstating the right to organize this barbarous spectacle there. But then there is an article by the respected Carles Geli on the bookfair, telling us that this year the arts and virtual reality have taken centerstage, and that the mood among the industry is slightly optimistic after years of crisis, also for publishing in Spanish, as according to his article, Spanish is the third spoken language worldwide and second one as to internet usage. La Vanguardia and El Mundo have got nothing (yet?) on the Frankfurt book fair.

SOURCE: Frankfurter Buchmesse

Snippet: Arturo Pérez Reverte’s “Falcó”

Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Falcó, 2016, 296 p.

publisher’s advance promotion:

Arturo Pérez-Reverte returns this fall with a book protagonized by his most fascinating character since Captain Alatriste: Lorenzo Falcó, a spy without scruples, former arms smuggler and secret service agent who moves with extreme skill in the turbulent Europe of the 1930s and 40s. … A story of violence, power plots and suspense, in which reality and fiction are intertwined in brilliant fashion to shape an extraordinary spy novel.

“Falco’s world was a different one, and there the sides were perfectly defined: on one side he, and on the other side everybody else.”

In the fall of 1936, while the frontier between friends and foes is reduced to an imprecise and dangerous line, Falcó receives the order to infiltrate himself in a difficult mission that could change the course of the history of Spain. A man and two women, the Montero siblings and Eva Rengel, will be his companions and maybe his victims, in a time in which life is written to the beat of betrayals and nothing is what it seems to be.

Falcó is a thrilling novel, addictive reading, with which Arturo Pérez-Reverte creates again a great character, comparable to the most outstanding spies and adventurers of literature.

The work will be published simultaneously in Spain, Latin America, and the US on Oct. 19.


This blogger will wait for the professional (if there are any) and reader reviews before considering to read this novel. Some of Pérez-Reverte’s books have fascinating plots and disappointing endings. The length of this book is exactly the size of your average novel, as if written according to preestablished marketing requirements. If he goes on publishing several books a year, Pérez-Reverte could be characterized as Spain’s (and Latin America’s) Ken Follett very soon.

Update (27/10/2016):

From Carles Barba’s review:

In interviews Pérez-Reverte has insisted in assuring that Falcó should not be considered a novel about the [Spanish] Civil War. For us it is one indeed, and worthy to be named among the best that have been written on the subject in recent years (next to Veinte años y un día [20 years and one day] by [Jorge] Semprún, Ayer no más [Yesterday no more] by [Andrés] Trapiello, or Riña de gatos [Cat fight] by [Eduardo] Mendoza). Our author has achieved to explain a true rescue attempt of the fall of 1936 with the lights, the tension and the dryness of classic gangster movies and novels. And by situating a good part of the action in the republican Levante (and in his native sunny Cartagena that he knows in detail) he has explored in a rare fashion the darkness of the human condition and the lowness to which fratricidal hate can lead. And Falco’s final assault, as if he was a wolf, at a murky torture house, is a round closing, the restorative catharsis, and a journey directly into the heart of the shadows.


SOURCE: Alfaguara (PRH, publisher); review by Carles Barba in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, October 22, 2016, p. 4-5 [printed edition]

Snippet: novel about the journalist Sofía Casanova

Inés Martín Rodrigo, Azules son las horas [Blue are the hours], 2016, 300 p.

The publisher offers a summary in English on their foreign rights pages.

The review by Carles Barba informs that a century ago Sofía Casanova was a reporter for ABC newspaper, and during 21 years she sent around 800 articles from Eastern Europe for publication in Spain. One of her main topics was the suffering of the civilians in times of war. She even managed to interview Trotsky. “Conservative, catholic, monarchic, in 1937 she let herself manipulate by the Nationals [rebels] and interviewed Franco in Burgos.” Which explains in part why she has become forgotten. She later observed the Nazi invasion of Poland and reported on the German barbarity to Germanophile Spanish newspapers. Barba recommends this book.

The author, Inés Martín Rodrigo (Madrid, 1983) is a journalist, head of the Books section of ABC newspaper.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, March 19, 2016, p. 10 [printed edition]

Snippet: Planeta 2016 to Dolores Redondo

Some excerpts from an excellent article by Carles Geli for El País:

The 65th edition of the Planeta Prize, a round number, required a flashy name, but also one the would fulfill the requirement of wide diffusion, and this is nowadays achieved by crime novels, the en vogue genre.  And further, as has been the norm during the last editions of the prize, it should go to somebody who belongs to us [i.e. the same publisher]. And all of this converges in a spectacular fashion in the writer Dolores Redondo, one of the latest great phenomena of Spanish publishing with her Baztán trilogy (more than 400,000 copies sold, published by Destino, label of Planeta group; a tourist route already created; a movie in the making…).

In Todo esto te daré [All of this I will give to you], the novel with which she has won in Barcelona and pocketed the 601,000 EUR in prize money, Redondo doesn’t go on with the adventures of the trilogy’s policewoman from Navarra, but she keeps up the tone of a crime novel in which a famous writer discovers after an accident the double life of his partner. The runner-up was, to not be out of tune in a soiree that counted with the presence of the Spanish king and queen and some of the most important Spanish and Catalan politicians, for another phenomenon: Marcos Chicot, author of one of the most sold e-books in Spanish (El asesinato de Pitágoras [The assassination of Pythagoras]), who, in recoil of his great success, again sets a plot that combines crime and historical novel in the classic Greece of the philosophers: the new title, El asesinato de Socrates [Socrates’ assassination] (150,250 EUR in prize money).

“I had to take a break, breathe and tell another story that I had had within me during a lot of time, six years, a novel about servitude to the bad; the title is a proposition of greed, words of the devil in the gospels,” assures Redondo (San Sebastián, 1969), who a little more than one year ago finished Ofrenda a la tormenta [Offering to the tempest], with which she closed a cycle begun in 2013. In reality, in her new novel from the earlier trilogy she has only left a certain aftertaste of ghostly family secrets and the rural ambientation, though here it is a village in Galicia (the writer has Galician ancestors) and not the valley in Navarre. In this village arrives a writer who is after the traces of his partner who has suffered a grave accident. The mishap reveals a supposed double life of the deceased, which the writer intends to clarify, supported by a retired policeman and a friend who is a priest.

In the work everybody is suspicious, similar to the style of Agatha Christie novels, one of Redondo’s literary references together with P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. They are only a few references of a writer who was a voracious reader from childhood, and yesterday especially moved: she admitted to have participated already years ago in a prize that as a child she “watched on television dreaming to be there.”

The prize does nothing but strengthen Redondo’s ascending career, that, after writing some children’s stories and short fiction, began seven years ago with the novel Los privilegios del ángel [The angel’s priviledges] (2009), and then got off with El guardián invisible [The invisible guardian] (2013), the first installment of a trilogy protagonized by the Navarran police commissioner with a strong character, Amaia Salazar, already translated into 15 languages. And it’s reverberations don’t seem to have an end: for 2017 there is foreseen the third and last part of the comic strip version of the trilogy, and also the release of the movie adaptation of the first part, directed by Fernando González Molina and produced by Atresmedia, the audiovisual division of Planeta.


The posts on the Baztán trilogy are among the most-read of this blog: volume 1, vol. 2, vol. 3. Your blogger hasn’t read any of the books yet as he is not a friend of mystic realism or supernatural elements in fiction. His mother in law likes them a lot, though, and she has already travelled to the Baztán valley…

More on earlier Planeta prize winners and the prize itself can be found here: 2015, 2014, 2013.

SOURCE: El País, Oct. 16, 2016

Snippet: Congratulations, Bob Dylan!

Product Details

The committee has just announced that Bob Dylan is the 2016 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Wikipedia offers this article with more information on the poet and his biblio-/discography.

To get an idea of the musician, there is a lot of choice on youtube, including some examples of his latest appearance at Desert Trip, Indio, CA, on Oct. 7, 2016.

The New York Times‘ coverage of this news can be found here. offers Chronicles by Bob Dylan, books with his lyrics, a lot of books on him, and a lot of recordings, of course…


SOURCE:, Oct. 13, 2016

Snippet: Javier Pérez Andújar, writer


Translated from the Wikipedia:

Javier Pérez Andújar (Sant Adrià de Besòs, 1965) is a Spanish writer.

A graduate of Spanish Philology of Universitat de Barcelona, Pérez Andújar has contributed to the TV programs Saló de Lectura (“Reading Room”, Barcelona TV) and L’Hora del Lector (“Reader’s Hour”, TV3). He has been the managing editor of the magazine Taifa and has written articles for the fanzine Mondo Brutto and for the daily El País.

Mainly an essay writer, in 2007 he published his first novel, Los príncipes valientes [The valiant princes]. The work is an evocation of the author’s childhood in a family of Andalusian immigrants of the outskirts of Barcelona, with numerous references to the world of comics (already the title is an allusion to Hal Foster’s classic Prince Valiant) and popular literature. Los príncipes valientes was one of the five finalists to the Premio de Novela Fundación Lara [Lara foundation novel prize] that is given to the best novel published during a given year.

In 2014, the writer received the Premi Ciutat de Barcelona [City of BCN prize].

In 2016, he was the “opening speaker” of the Mercè festivities [feast of the city of Barcelona around the days of the city’s patron saint, Our Lady of Mercy, 24 September].



Catalanes todos. Las 15 visitas de Franco a Cataluña [All Catalans. The 15 visits by Franco to Catalonia] (Barcelona, La Tempestad, 2002).

Salvador Dalí. A la conquista de lo irracional [Salvador Dalí. In conquest of the irrational] (Madrid, Algaba, 2003).

Milagro en Barcelona con fotografías de Joan Guerrero Luque [Miracle in Barcelona, with pictures by JGL] (Barcelona, Editorial Ariel, 2014).


Los príncipes valientes [The valiant princes] (Barcelona, Tusquets, 2007).

Todo lo que se llevó el diablo [Gone with the devil] (Barcelona, Tusquets, 2010).

Paseos con mi madre [Walks with my mother] (Barcelona, Tusquets, 2011).

Catalanes todos [All catalans] (Barcelona, Tusquets, 2014).

Diccionario enciclopédico de la vieja escuela [Encyclopedic dictionary of the old school] (Barcelona, Tusquets, 2016).

Anthologies of other authors

Vosotros los que leéis aún estáis entre los muertos [You who read are still among the dead] (Barcelona, Círculo de Lectores).

La vida no vale nada [Life’s worth nothing] (Barcelona, Círculo de Lectores, 2008).


Publisher’s summary of Pérez Andújar’s latest work, Diccionario enciclopédico de la vieja escuela [Encyclopedic dictionary of the old school]:

In alphabetical order like the encyclopedias of the past, this new book by Javier Pérez Andújar holds an original universe, that of his origins and his past, and it projects a view on that which has happened during these recent years in which everything has changed. Thus, this dictionary is at the same time a collection of references, such as the comics published by Bruguera, fantasy films, the history of Charlie Hebdo, the suburbs, television and popular culture, but also a chronicle of the anonymous people of the quarters and streets of Barcelona, Madrid and other cities, the Occupy… movements [los indignados], international fear, and in general an ode to the old school. And between some articles and others, there emerges the most intimate world of the author with chapters that constitute a true generational synthesis, written in the most original and sparkling prose of Spanish literature. Definitely a manual of the old school to not stop reading from the beginning to the end.


As far as this blogger can judge after reading a few articles on the author (induced by the controversy around a no-independence-promoting author opening Barcelona’s Mercè festivities), Pérez Andújar has been constant in claiming that comics and popular literature, though considered of minor value, serve educational purposes, and that there is a different, financially poorer, hardly acknowledged Barcelona to be reckoned with beyond the upper-class city center celebrated in a lot of Catalan “establishment” literature.

SOURCE: Wikipedia (Spanish, consulted Oct. 7, 2016), Tusquets (publisher)