Juan Manuel de Prada, Morir bajo tu cielo [Dying under your sky], 2014, 747 p.
One of the most heroic and unknown episodes in Spanish history, narrated by one of the most brilliant writers of contemporary literature: the desaster of 1898 and the loss of the Philippines in Juan Manuel de Prada’s latest literary delivery.
Between June 30, 1898, and June 2, 1899, a Spanish unit resisted the siege by Philippine troops, superior in number, in a church in the village Baler, on Luzón island, also when these lands were not Spanish any longer. These soldiers would go down in history as “the last of the Philippines.”
In Morir bajo tu cielo, taking this episode as an inspiration, Juan Manuel de Prada proposes an immersion into the Philippines of the time, through unforgettable characters that will stay in the readers’ hearts and minds: officials wounded by a secret pain, gun-wielding priests, soldiers treated as cannon fodder by their superiors, Philippine insurgents full of greatness and courage, weapons dealers without scruples, and exceptional women who have to be like that in a scary and turbulent world. The readers accompany them in their physical and dialectical battles to barracks and palaces, opium dens and brothels, night meetings of the frightful Katipunan, jungles watched by the ferocious ilongots, mangroves infected by alligators, and estates where one still breathes the perfume of Arcadia, before coming all together in Baler, where they will meet their destiny.
An epic and intimate novel, an adventure novel and a novel of ideas, Morir bajo tu cielo is also a tribute to so many men and women who made up for the ineptitude of disastrous rulers with will, courage, personal sacrifices and love for their neighbors.
Planeta offers this author information in English.
from Carles Barba’s review:
J.M. de Prada has fictionalized the fall of Spain’s last overseas bastion, and he assures the start of a cycle of different volumes. […] [The author] has reconstructed the epoch in an imaginative way… preceded by a minute immersion in the Philippines of the times. … with very individualized characters […] Never, by the way, J.M. de Prada looked so much like a South American author as in this work. […] But J.M. de Prada wrote his Philippines novel with the mortar of classic Spanish literature (from Romancero to Lope), and above all, rendering tribute to Cervantes and his greatest book.
Virgina Yagüe, La última princesa del Pacífico [The last princess of the Pacific], 2014, 446 p.
Planeta offers an English summary on its foreign rights page.
from Carles Barba’s review:
Definitely a good debut by Virginia Yagüe who braids a suggestive story of overcoming in a Pacific being devoured by the great powers.
Yagüe (Madrid, 1973) had already published a novel in 2009 called El Marqués [The marquis]. She is a mainly a scriptwriter and producer of TV series.
Since 2014, Juan Manuel de Prada has published two more novels, El castillo de diamante [The diamond castle; publisher’s summary (2015)], and Mirlo blanco, cisne negro [White blackbird, black swan; publisher’s summary (2016)].
SOURCE: Espasa (Planeta, publisher de Prada); Planeta (publisher Yagüe); review by Carles Barba in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, Jan. 14, 2015 [printed edition]