Snippet: Iturbe’s “In the open sky”

Antonio Iturbe, A cielo abierto [In the open sky], 2017, 624 p.

Premio Biblioteca Breve 2017 [“Short library award”]

Publisher’s summary:

France, 1920s. Only the best pilots are accepted at Latécoère. Among the chosen are Jean Mermoz, Henri Guillaumet and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, three heroic aviators who will open the first mail delivery lines in unexplored routes. No distance is too far for them, no mountain too high: the letters need to get to their destination. When they land, they face the turbulences of life on the ground in a century divided by wars.

A cielo abierto narrates the incredible feats of three close friends that marked the history of aviation, and it is also a tribute to the author of The Little Prince, an unforgettable writer who could see reality through the eyes of a child.

Antonio Iturbe has written a thrilling novel thanks to the careful balance between fast action and the subtle emotionality projected by Saint-Exupéry’s view on the world, to the perfect characterization of the personalities and the settings of both the Parisian salons and the New York literary circles, and the universe that surrounded these legendary aviators. A celebration of literature’s essence in a story of friendship, of impossible dreams, of love and passion, of the pleasure of flying and discovering, from the sky, a beautiful planet full of mysteries.

Carles Barba (critic):

“It counts in favor of Iturbe to have written an epic of heroes in antiheroic tone. And that a story that lent itself to loops and pirouttes of all kinds, in contrast extolls the hidden and well done work, the camaraderie of the squadron, the service in favour of the community, and the intimate conviction that “the medals that count dangle on the inside.” … The greed for life, the hunger of flying, the zest for being useful and feel oneself connected with the others, and the passion of writing, these are the leitmotifs that resound in A cielo abierto… Yes, A cielo abierto celebrates the glory of existing but it also reflects its tormenting uncertainty.”

Antonio Iturbe was born in Zaragoza in 1967 and grew up in Barcelona. He is the author of the novels Rectos torcidos (Distorted straights, 2005), Días de sal (Days of salt, 2008), and La bibliotecaria de Auschwitz (The Librarian of Auschwitz, 2012) winner of the Troa Prize “Books with values” and published in eleven countries. He is the author of the children’s books series Los casos del Inspector Cito (Inspector Cito’s cases), translated into six languages, and of the series La Isla de Susú (Susú’s island). As a cultural journalist he worked for El Periódico, Fantastic Magazine and Qué Leer (“What to read”), a magazine that he directed during seven years, and he contributed to radio and publications such as Fotogramas and Avui. Currently he is the editor in chief of the magazine Librújula [“Book compass”], and contributor to Cultura/s, El País, Heraldo de Aragón and Mercurio, and he teaches at the Universitat de Barcelona and at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. (Planeta)

Iturbe’s previous novel, The Librarian of Auschwitz (Macmillan, will be published in the US on Oct. 10, 2017.

This blogger really likes Iturbe’s weekly column in La Vanguardia‘s literary supplement “Cultura/s” where he focusses on the publishing industry, especially small and new publishers who aim at quality, on cultural politics, public libraries, etc.

SOURCE: Seix Barral (Planeta, publisher); “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, March 25, 2017, p. 4-5 [printed edition]

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