Snippet: Martínez de Pisón’s “Natural law”

Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, Derecho natural [Natural law], 2017, 448 p.

Publisher’s summary:

At the time when he passes from childhood to adult age in a Spain that is in the middle of the opening process after the “Transition” to democracy, in the interior of Ángel, the protagonist of Derecho natural, throbs the imperious necessity to give meaning to things, to find an order, given that his family has been a model of instability and disorder. The father, an erratic actor of B-movies and Demis Roussos imitator, has got an irrepressible tendency to flight. His stellar appearances and disappearances leave unvisible but indelible marks in every one of his four children. The mother, for her part, is a woman in love who, fed up with believing in him, will have to make superhuman efforts to take life in her own hands in a Spain that hasn’t yet totally woken up from the Franco system. Through Ángel’s conciliatory voice, who will study Law and look for reconciliation with the father, the readers lean into 1970s Barcelona and 1980s Madrid.

Derecho natural gathers in its title those years in which there began the building of a full legislative development, in open contradiction to the long time during which law and justice didn’t coincide.

“How does one sum up a life?”, the narrator asks himself in a given moment. Depending on where one puts the final point, the summary adopts the form of a drama or of a comedy. In the reconstruction that he does, comedy and drama live toghether in an inextricable intimacy that again and again carries us from emotion to laughter.

Ignacio Martínez de Pisón was born in Zaragoza in 1960, where he studied Spanish Philology. Since 1982, he lives in Barcelona, where he studied Italian Philology. He is the author of a dozen books, among them stand out the short story collection El fin de los buenos tiempos [The end of the good times; 1994], the novels Carreteras secundarias [Secondary roads, 1996], María bonita [Beautiful Mary; 2001] and El tiempo de las mujeres [The women’s time; 2003], and the essay Enterrar a los muertos [Burying the dead; 2005] that received the Rodolfo Walsh and Dulce Chacón awards and was unanimously praised by the critics in various European countries.

Antón Castro, in his biographical sketch on Martínez de Pisón, adds other works by the author, not mentioned by his publisher:

Dientes de leche [Milk teeth; 2008; novel]

Aeropuerto de Funchal [Funchal airport; 2009; a short story anthology]

El día de mañana [The day of tomorrow; 2011; novel]

Spanish state TV’s Página 2 book show offers this extended interview with the author on Derecho Natural (in Spanish with Spanish subtitles).

In 2012, Martínez de Pisón won the National Fiction prize for La buena reputación (cf. post).

SOURCE: Seix Barral (Planeta, publisher); Antón Castro, ‘El narrador invisible…’, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, March 18, 2017, p. 4-6 [printed edition]

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