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]

Carme Riera’s “Last words”

Carme Riera, Les darreres paraules [Last words], 2016, 176 p.

BBVA Sant Jordi prize 2016 for Catalan literature (35,000 EUR)

Publisher’s summary:

Carme Riera novelizes the life of a free, exciting and adventerous character: the archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria.

In a discovered manuscript, Ludwig Salvator of Habsburg-Lorraine (Florence, Tuscany 1847 – Bohemia, Austria-Hungary 1915) confesses the secrets of his love relationships, some of them tragic, and he presents personal but objective points of view on the events that changed the map of Europe of the 20th century, from Meyerling to Sarajevo. Cousin of the emperor Francis Joseph and the empress Elizabeth, the famous Sissi, maybe he could have prevented the unleashing of World War I.

An unrepentant and mysterious traveler, a man of letters, naturalist and ecologist avant la lettre, the archduke was also in love with Majorca. On the island he built his small paradise kingdom.

Les darreres paraules reveals through alledged memories the family, love and political experiences of an extraordinary person who, even though he belonged to Europe’s most important imperial family, lived far from conventionalisms.


One can consider the advertising’s sentence on a possible influence on the politics before World War I as pure marketing, cf. e.g. Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War. Nevertheless the archduke has fascinated this blogger ever since he read of the 2015 exhibition held in Majorca to commemorate the centenary of the archduke’s death. The curator of that exhibition was no other than this novel’s author…

The Wikipedia has got a short article in English on the archduke, more extensive in other languages.

More on the writer and academic Carme Riera (Palma de Mallorca, 1948) can the found in the Wikipedia article and a biography page of the Catalan writers’ association.

SOURCE: Grup 62 (publisher); Vilaweb, June 20, 2016

Snippet: Roser Rosés, a “girl of Russia”

Trenes Tallades. Record d'una

Roser Rosés, Trenes tallades. Records d’una “nena de Rússia” [The cut braids: memories of a “girl of Russia”], 2016, 199 p.

Publisher’s summary:

Trenes tallades… is the moving story of Roser Rosés’ years of forced exile, a 12 year old girl who in 1938 was sent by her parents to the USSR to protect her from the devastations of the Spanish Civil War, and who returned in 1947 converted into a woman with a sensibility and a formation that were incompatible with Franco’s Spain. It’s the lucid, tender and intense story of a childhood and adolescence marked by wars that took many years before it could be explained.

“There were left behind in the USSR seven and a half years of my life, seven and half years of unimaginable experiences over 12,000 km of displacements and dangerous evacuations that I had to undergo due to the damned war; there were left a part of my childhood and all of my adolescence, in a stay that had become a lot longer than anybody had foreseen, in this immense country. I took with me some studies, some happiness – little – and a lot of misfortune. And the sensation of feeling strong and fortunate to have survived it all.”


SOURCE: Cal·lígraf (publisher)

Snippet: Gabriel Janer Manila’s memories

Gabriel Janer Manila, Ha nevat sobre Yesterday [Snow has fallen over Yesterday], 2016, 400 p.

The publisher’s summary:

Gabriel Janer Manila, the novelist who shook the Balearic literature during the 1970s and 80s returns to the frontstage with his rich and literary powerful memories. Through the life and work of his family, clothes sellers at countryside fairs in Mallorca, he portrays the island. He evokes his childhood in the village of Algaida, in contact with nature, with the weight of the [Spanish Civil] war still present, in surroundings where all know each other. The religious education and the nuns draw an atmosphere that today appears pintoresque and moving.

The author gets excited about the island’s popular culture: certain folkloric imagery, witchcraft, popular legends, erotic songs. He resists the pressure to become a priest. He descovers the passion for learning and teaching and also the cultural activism of certain groups. And despite the shadow of Franco, the beginning of the 1960s brings, like a breeze, the songs of the Beatles, liberty and uprising.

Gabriel Janer Manila (Algaida, Mallorca, 1940) is a graduate of Letters, PhD in Education from the Universitat de Barcelona, Chair of Anthropology of Education at the Universitat de les Illes Balearsés, and a writer. In 1967 he presented himself with L’abisme [Abyss], for which he was awarded the City of Palma novel prize. From then on he has continued to publish novels, with emblematic titles such as Els alicorns [The head-wand] (Josep Pla prize 1971), La cerimònia [The ceremony] (1977), Els rius de Babilònia [The rivers of Babylon] (Premi Sant Joan 1984), La dama de les boires [The lady of the fogs] (1987, Columna 2000), Paradís d’orquídies [Orchids’ paradise] (Columna, 1992), Lluna creixent sobre el Tàmesi [Growing moon over the Thames](Columna, 1993), La vida, tan obscura [Life, so dark] (Columna, 1996), Els jardins incendiats [The gardens set afire] (Premi Carlemany 1997, Columna 1997), Estàtues sobre el mar [Statues on the sea] (Columna, 2000), and George. El perfum dels cedres  [George. The cedars’ perfume] (Premi Nèstor Luján, Columna, 2002). He has also written essays and juvenile literature. At present times, Janer Manila is the director of the Institut d’Estudis Baleàrics [Institute of Balearic Studies; IBS website (Catalan only)].

Julià Guillamon calls it “the first great memory book by an author of the 1970s generation.”

SOURCE: Proa (publisher); “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, June 11, 2016, p. 6 [printed edition]

Int’l Book Day: Jordi Gracia’s “Cervantes”

megustaleer - Miguel de Cervantes - Jordi Gracia

Jordi Gracia, Miguel de Cervantes. La Conquista de la Ironia. Una Biografía [M.d.C. The Conquest of Irony. A Biography], 2016, 400 p.

Publisher’s summary:

This biography wants to take off some of the dust of 400 years of history that have settled on Cervantes; it wants to bring near to us his human and emotional dimension, his condition of a firm man of weapons and an inexhaustible man of letters, a unique writer – and also his carried away vitality, his defence of women, and his quest to understand existence as nobody had understood it until then: at the modern crossroads of irony. That has ended up being his best intimacy.

Neither destitute nor predestined Cervantes managed to escape his times to enter the center of our times because only the classics live like authentic modern works. But none is so modern as Cervantes in the Don Quixote: when age already bends his back, his joy continues intact and nothing will sour his mood. Irony and the ideal go hand in hand for the first time in a novel impossible in its time, and today as brilliant as then. Some of the reasons for this sortilege are in this biography that was written with narrative impulse, at street level, trustworthy and modernizing.

It’s been 400 years since Cervantes’ death, key 2016 commemoration in Spain. After the anniversary of the Quixote‘s publication in 2005, the 2016 celebrations focus on the writer himself. It’s the ideal moment for this renovative biography that really focuses on a portrait of Cervantes as a human being and as a writer.

Today (at least part of) the Spanish speaking world remembers the 4th century of Cervantes’ death (died April 22, buried April 23, 1616… the very same day Shakespeare died). The Mexican author Fernando del Paso (Ciudad de México, 1935; available in English: News from the Empire) will receive the 40th Cervantes prize. In Catalonia there are celebrations for Sant Jordi (Saint George’s day), La Vanguardia offers a special section (and also some pictures of the book stalls and rose vendors in the streets of Barcelona)…

SOURCE: Taurus (publisher)

Snippet: Stella Maris prize to Emilio Calderón


Emilio Calderón,  La memoria de un hombre está en sus besos. Biografía de Vicente Aleixandre [A human’s memory is in his kisses. Biography of Vicente Aleixandre], 2016, 535 p.

2nd Stella Maris Biography and Memories Prize

Publisher’s summary:

Giving the 1977 Nobel Prize for Literature to Vicente Aleixandre was in recognition of a poetic universe that was not only comparable to the most celebrated Spanish poets of his time, but also comparable to T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden with whom he maintains powerful parallelisms. In Vicente Aleixandre’s poetics stands out his capacity to procure an oneiric, sensual and pantheistic vision of human existence, his bet for poetry understood as communication, and his profound eagerness to incorporate widely diverse currents in a personal form. Nourished by a huge amount of unpublished documents -mainly obtained from the author’s correspondence, e.g. the one he maintained with the painter Guillermo Prieto-, Emilio Calderón has written the first complete biography of Aleixandre. He lets us in on Alexandre’s childhood in Sevilla and Málaga, his dazzled discovery of poetry, his friends -from Emilio Prados to Carlos Bousoño-, his frail health or his entry into the RAE [Royal Spanish Language Academy]. He reveals to us his reserved love life, his position during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime, and his attempt to go into exile in February 1938 that was finally unsuccessful due to questions of bureaucracy, his relation with different generations of poets -among them Luis Antonio de Villena, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Vicente Molina Foix or Pere Gimferrer-. He also describes Aleixandre’s house in Velintonia -today a place of “worship”- and the troubles that derived from his testament. Finally, thanks to Emilio Calderón’s narrative strength, Vicente Aleixandre, the most complex and complete Spanish poet of our recent literature, receives the attention that he deserved.

 Emilio Calderón (Málaga, 1960) offers an English speaking website with more information on his biography and bibliography.


SOURCE: El Diario, Jan. 16, 2016; Stella Maris (publisher)

Snippet: L. Padura’s “The Man Who Loved Dogs”


Though by a Cuban author, Leonardo Padura, The Man Who Loved Dogs needs to be recommended here, some parts of the story are set in Civil War Spain, and one of the protagonists is a Spaniard. The book is a novelized double biography of Leon Trotski and his assassin, Ramón Mercader; shows how the Soviet Union under Stalin “worked”, and a lot more. A great book about History, tragedies, treason and compassion. has got an impressive review page for this book.