Snippet: Teresa Solana’s “A Short-cut to Paradise”

Teresa Solana, Drecera al paradís/A shortcut to paradise, 2007/2011

A fresh and lively Barcelona crime story and at the same time a satire on the world of Iberian literature with the constant quarrels between authors that write quality literature and those that sell a lot of books… Published in 2007 this blogger read it with a delay of nine years, and it still appeared to be very up to date both in its portrayal of normal people’s problems of making ends meet as in its depictions of contemporary writers, their vanities and their discussions. Her other crime novels are also very good.

This post has been waiting to be published for more than a year… You will find more information on the novel and its author at the Source.

SOURCE: Bitter Lemon Press (publisher in English); Grup 62 (Catalan publisher, cover)

Snippet: Roberto Santiago’s “Ana”

Roberto Santiago, Ana [Anna], 2017, 864 p.

publisher’s summary:

Years ago, Ana Tramel was a brilliant criminal lawyer sought after by the best firms. A negative event in her past changed her life, and nowadays she spends her days in administrative resources in a mediocre firm, drowning in a glass of whisky. But her life is upset when her brother Alejandro, whom she hasn’t talked to in five years, calls her distressed. He has just been arrested for the murder of the director of the Casino Gran Castilla.
Ana asks her boss and old friend Concha for help. She needs the structure and the resources of the office to carry forward a defense in which she has got practically everything against her. Together with a peculiar team (an old investigator, a young female lawyer new to the job, and an intern addicted to gambling) she confronts the big gambling companies.

Ana, an absorbing thriller starring an intelligent but finished woman, brilliant but autodestructive, unique.

A dark murder
A protagonist who will leave her mark.
A battle that everybody considers lost.
A thriller that you will not be able to forget.

Roberto Santiago is a writer, playwright and movie director. He is the author of more than twenty novels for children and juvenile readers. Among others, the Futbolísimos series, that has become the most sold Spanish children’s literature saga during recent years, and that has been translated to various languages. He wrote and directed, among others, the movies El penalti más largo del mundo [The longest penalty in the world] (nominated for the Goya [Spanish Oscar] for best script), El club de los suicidas [The suicides’ club], Al final del camino [At the way’s end] and the international coproduction El sueño de Iván [Ivan’s dream]. In theatre, he wrote the adaptations of Ocho apellidos vascos [Eight Basque family names], El otro lado de la cama [The other side of the bed] and Perversiones sexuales en Chicago [Sexual perversity in Chicago], by David Mamet, among others. He contributed to various TV series; he is a profesor at the Escuela Oficial de Cine de la Comunidad de Madrid [Oficial movie academy of the Madrid region]; and his short film Ruleta [Roulette] was the first Spanish short film to compete in the official section of the Cannes film festival. Ana is his first novel for adults.

The presentation of the book on Spanish television’s Página 2 literature program sounded really interesting, though this blogger will wait until his public library makes the book available, or that in around two years there will be a cheaper paperback edition [ironically, most of the new and expensive Spanish novels are only paperbacks; it is hard to find nice, bound copies]. His ten year old daughter has already read a lot of Santiago’s children’s novels – their appeal probably lies to a great extent in the fact that they are richly illustrated.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)

Snippet: 8th “Ink Crimes” prize to Marc Moreno

During the opening act of Barcelona crime novel week 2017 (BCNegra), the 8th Crims de Tinta  [“ink crimes”] prize, sponsored by RBA-La Magrana (a big publishing house), was awarded to Marc Moreno (Barcelona, 1977), owner of the small Llibres del Delicte publishing house, specialized in Catalan crime novels, and author of five crime novels. The winning novel is entitled Temps de rates [Rats’ times] and set in Barcelona’s Verneda neighborhood. It starts with a drug dealer on the run who leaves a rucksack containing eight kilograms of cocaine with a neighbor of his on the same floor. Eloi draws the attention of all the mafiosi of his neighborhood who want to know where all of this material has come from. The jury decided unanimously in favor of Moreno’s novel due to “the dramatic force of the arguments and the desperate characters and the not at all complacent view on a nearly always hidden reality. […] The archetype of the losers has been brought to the extreme, creating surviving and amoral anti-heroes who, despite all of their efforts to the contrary, generate the readers’ empathy. […] The novel shows a willingness to get close to the most unpleasant reality, following the social function of a crime novel.” (Poverty, crime, drugs, and bad luck.)

Moreno’s other books are:

Cabdills [Chieftains] (2011)

Independència d’interessos [Independence of interests] (2013)

El silenci dels pactes [The silence of the pacts] (2014)

Contra l’aparador [Against the showcase] (2015)

and, together with S. Bennasar, Ll. Llort and S. Macip, La reina de diamants [The diamond queen] (2014)

Sounds a little bit like a Catalan Hunter S. Thompson to this blogger who might abstain from reading Moreno as he likes to preserve his peace of mind ignoring society’s most unpleasant domains…

SOURCE: (newspaper), Jan. 26, 2017

Snippet: BCN Negra 2017 – 26 Jan – 4 Feb

Barcelona crime novel week already at its 12th edition.

Reinstalled Crims de Tinta [Ink crimes] prize, 8th edition, will be awarded on Jan. 26.

The Pepe Carvalho prize will be given to Dennis Lehane. There will be an exhibition on the detective Pepe Carvalho, as there have passed 40 years since Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s (1939-2003, Wikipedia article) novel La soledad del mánager [The Angst-Ridden Executive].

More information in Catalan and Spanish at the source.

The program looks interesting with a lot of different round-table discussions on e.g. Catalan crime fiction, crime in Barcelona, Catalunya or the Basque Country, women in British crime fiction, etc. The only thing that struck this blogger as somewhat strange is that the program lists all the academic achievements of the lesser-known participants next to their names instead of concentrating on the main one, i.e. the reason for their being there, e.g. hardly anybody is only a journalist, all are also writers (but who is not?); with the better-known participants they simply put “writer”…


Snippet: RBA crime novel prize to Ian Rankin

Even Dogs in the Wild Ian Rankin

On Sept. 8, 2016, and in Barcelona, Ian Rankin was awarded the X Premio RBA de Novela Negra [Tenth RBA crime novel prize] for his novel Los perros salvajes; judging from the title it is the Spanish version of his 2015 John Rebus novel Even Dogs in the Wild [Wikipedia]. The news is not really surprising, considering that RBA has been Rankin’s publisher in Spain for years and that Spanish publishers in the recent past have tended to give their literary prizes to in-house authors as a relatively cheap means of publicity – though the juries are claimed to be independent… What makes the RBA prize special is that with 125,000 EUR it is the highest endowed crime novel award in the world.

More information on Ian Rankin (Cardenden, Fife, 1960) can be found in the Wikipedia and The Guardian.


SOURCE: El País, Sept. 8, 2016; author homepage

Crime literature festivals in Spain

As Antonio Iturbe remarked in a recent column, crime literature festivals are booming in Spain. Those mentioned by him are listed here in chronological order. The reason for the frequent appearance of the word “black” in their titles is that in Spanish the genre is called “novela negra” (Catalan: “novel·la negra”), literally “black novel”, in Alicante they decided to translate it “dark novel”.

Aragonegro [Black Aragón], 2016: Jan. 14 – 31, website (Spanish only)

Pamplona Negra [Black Pamplona], Navarra, 2016: Jan. 19 – 23, facebook (Spanish only)

Tiana Negra [Black Tiana], Maresme, Catalonia, 2016: Jan. 22 – 23, blog (Catalan only)

BCNegra [Black Barcelona], crime novel week, 2016: Jan. 28 – Feb. 6, website (Catalan, Spanish)

Tenerife Noir [Black Tenerife], Canary Islands, 2016: March 2 – 18, website (Spanish only)

Festival Internacional de Novel·la Negra en Català [Int’l Catalan crime novel festival], L’Espluga de Francolí, 2016: April 8 – 10, blog (Catalan only)

Encuentro de Casas Ahorcadas de Cuenca [Cuenca hung houses meeting], Castilla La Mancha, 2016: April 29 – May 1, blog (Spanish only)

València Negra [Black Valencia], 2016: May 6 – 15, facebook (Spanish only)

Mayo Negro de Alicante [Alicante Dark May], 2016: May 21 – 24, program (English)

El Segre de Negre [The Segre river in black], Lleida, 2016: June 3 – 4, article (Catalan only)

Semana Negra de Gijón [Gijón crime novel week], Asturias, 2016: July 8 – 17, 29th edition, the “mother” of all these festivals in Spain, a big event with powerful sponsors, website (Spanish only)

Granada Noir [Black Granada], 2016: Oct. 3 -9, website (Spanish only)

Getafe Negro [Black Getafe],2016: Oct. 14 – 23, website (Spanish only)


SOURCE: A. Iturbe, ‘llibrescopi: Som negres,’ “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, June 18, 2016, p. 14 [printed edition]