Snippet: Arelis Uribe’s “Quiltras”

cover of the 2016 edition (Libros de la mujer rota)

Arelis Uribe, Quiltras, 2019, 102 p.

publisher’s summary:

«My only weapon of defense is wrinkle the forehead, walk fast and hope that nothing bad will happen between here and home.»

This book’s protagonists are women. Poor ones. Adolescents. Of mixed origins [BIPOC]. Homeless. In Chile, a quiltro is a street dog. They are just that. They live where nobody wants to look, where nobody wants to live. They wake up to a world that expects them to leave childhood. They are anxious, but only deception is guaranteed.

With an admirable expressive simplicity, Uribe gives a voice to those who never had one. Bisexual insurgent girls who live in neighborhoods that don’t appear on the maps. Women who trust more in animals than in human beings. Her writing oscillates between brutality and tenderness, and in Quiltras she outlines a portrait of the invisible that shows the particularity of being a woman and surviving it.

This book probably got mentioned in one of Llucia Ramis’ weekly columns…

SOURCE: Tránsito (publisher)

Snippet: The critics recommend (El País, Spain, May 2020)

cover babelia 230520

(c) cover design by Fernando Vicente, EL PAÍS, 23/05/20

As the Madrid Book Fair, normally held with hundreds of booths in Retiro park, was postponed to October, El País‘ culture supplement “Babelia” had recommendations for Spanish readers for the moment after the strict lockdown when they would be able to visit physical bookstores again. A lot of the recommended books (History, essays, juvenile literature) were translations from English to Spanish. Some of the books originally written in Spanish are listed here (a subjective choice among those not treated in earlier posts); they would probably deserve an individual blog post each, but this blogger doesn’t find the time or energy to write as often as he would like…

Spanish narrative as recommended by Carlos Pardo

Ni siquiera los muertos

Juan Gómez Bárcena, Ni siquiera los muertos [Not even the dead], Sexto Piso, 2020, 350 p.,
“five centuries of progress (and barbarity) told with a bold stylistic leap that combines the chronicles of the conquest of America with the modern frontier literature.”

megustaleer - La piel - Sergio del Molino

Sergio del Molino, La piel [The skin], Alfaguara, 2020, 240 p.,
“is the personal chronicle of a disease, psoriasis, but also a cultural history of monstruosity, racism and stigma. With star appearances of Nabokov, Cyndi Lauper, Stalin…”

There is a 2017 post on Sergio del Molino.

Paco Inclán, Dadas las circunstancias [Given the circumstances], Jekyll&Jill, 2020, 160 p., “[the texts] are a wonderful combination of mad reportage, burlesque erudition, and bittersweet story.”


Latin-American narrative as recommended by Marta Sanz

Fernanda García Lao, Nación vacuna [Vaccine nation], Candaya, 2020, 144 p.,
“is a profetical book. The skin bristles as it grazes stinging keywords: body, infection, vaccine.”

casa del libro madrid

Casa del Libro (bookstore) Madrid during lockdown, as shown in EL PAÍS, 04/04/20, p. 32

SOURCE: “Babelia,” El País, May 23, 2020, p. 4 [printed edition]

Lockdown reading: J.B. Priestley, “Daylight on Saturday” (1943)


J.B. Priestley, Daylight on Saturday (1943), 1967 PAN paperback edition, 268 p.

One of the rare books this blogger has come across that inspire calm and hope…

Some quotations:

‘Not much fun these days, eh? Doesn’t suit me either,’ he added […] ‘I like to be getting about, brisk and lively, seeing people, having a drink or two, doing business, looking in at a show.’ (p. 35)

‘But my mother takes no notice of that. […] Won’t listen to the news on the wireless [radio]. Says most of it’s all made up. All this bombing. And all the fighting in Russia. She says most of that’s all made up.’ […] ‘She says it’s all governments getting a bigger hold on people, that’s all it is, she says.’ (pp. 36-37)

‘This isn’t all yer life, y’know. Yer’ve more time than yer think, Elsie. An’ things just now – well, they’re a bit out of the ordinary, see. An’ that’s when yer’ve got to take it easy.’ (p. 48)

‘By the time I’ve done a day’s work here and I’ve listened to the war news and I’ve read all the war news in the paper, I’ve just had enough of the war for one day, and I don’t want imitation bits of the war effort dished up for me by the BBC. By that time, I think the BBC would be better employed reminding us that there’s a real world, a life worth enjoying, still existing somewhere outside this lunacy, something to remember from the past and to look forward to in the future, instead of War, War, War!’ (p. 155)

This novel is set in October 1942 when the outcomes of the battle of Stalingrad and the war in general were still unknown. World War II caused around 70-85M casualties worldwide (Wikipedia); Covid-19 365,000 so far (30 May 2020, El País). The Wikpedia has also got more information on Priestley.

Inside this second-hand copy –your blogger doesn’t remember where he acquired it–, there was an interesting bookmark: the edge of a picture postcard of cows on a meadow with a stamp from Iceland.

Snippet: The titles booksellers recommend [May 2020]

For one of the thin lockdown editions of “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia‘s culture supplement, the writer and culture journalist Àlvaro Colomer asked booksellers around Catalonia for the titles they would like to sell, most of which come from small publishers and don’t appear on the best-seller lists:

recommended best sellers:

Niklas Natt och Dag [Stockholm, 1979; Wikipedia, Spanish], 1793. El llop i el vigilant [1793: the wolf and the guard], Proa; crime fiction set in 1793 Stockholm.

Sebastià Alzamora (Mallorca, 1972), Reis del món [Kings of the world], Proa; novel on the relationship of two real, powerful characters from the same Mallorcan village in the first half of the 20th century.

recommended Catalan:


Manuel Baixauli (Valencia region, 1963), Ignot [Unknown], Eds. del Periscopi; novel on an illustrator discovering the author whose work he needs to illustrate.

Viure perillosament

Gemma Pasqual i Escrivá (Valencia region, 1967), Viure perillosament [To live dangerously], Comanegra; 14 short stories on free women.

Fills de la terra dura

Daniel Palomeras (Catalonia, 1949), Fills de la terra dura [Sons of the hard earth], Comanegra; novel on the life of Jacint Verdaguer [Wikipedia]

recommended Spanish:

"Como si existiese el perdón" de Mariana Travacio

Mariana Travasio (Argentina, 1967), Como si existiese el perdón [As if forgiveness existed], Las Afueras; dark novel, moral fable on human nature, violence and justice.

"Los mejores días" de Magalí Etchebarne

Magalí Echebarne (Argentina, 1983), Los mejores días [The best days], Las Afueras; short stories on women of all ages.

Marta Sanz, pequeñas mujeres rojas [small red women] (blog post)

Pere Cervantes (Barcelona, 1971), El chico de las bobinas [The guy for the reels], Planeta; historical thriller set in 1940s Barcelona; will have a German and Italian translation.

recommended international:

Ignacy Karpowicz (Poland, 1976; Wikipedia, Spanish), Sonka [Polish original 2014], Raig Verd; a terrible life story and its transformation by a playwright; there is 2018 translation by Dalkey Archive Press.


Itamar Orlev (Jerusalem, 1975), Bandido / Bandit = Voyou [“Thug”, French edition 2018], Quaderns Crema;  a middle-aged Israeli man in search of his father’s past in Poland.

Atrapa la llebre

Lana Bastasic (Zagreb, 1986; website), Atrapa la llebre [Catch the rabbit], Eds. del Periscopi; two women on a road trip to Bosnia and its recent past.

Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgaria, 1968), Novela natural [Natural novel], Pimentel; postmodern; the English translation by Dalkey Archive Press was published in 2005.

recommended non fiction:

perdido en el paraíso-umberto pasti-9788417902308

Umberto Pasti (Italy), Perdido en el paraíso [Lost in paradise], Acantilado; gardening, etc., cf. Home&Garden

Alfonso Barguño Viana (Barcelona, 1980), El suscitador. Apuntes sobre Francis Ponge [The trigger: notes on Francis Ponge], Hurtado & Ortega; biographical essay on a French poet

Vicenç Pagès Jordà, Memòria vintage [Vintage memoir: from the first man on the moon to Pulp Fiction], Empúries; 400 objects and concepts from 1969 to 1994 are remembered.

Contra amazon (Rústica Ensayo) de [Jorge Carrión]

Jorge Carrión (Tarragona, 1976), Contra Amazon [Against Amazon], Galaxia Gutenberg; highly praised essay collection on books, libraries, reading…; the English translation will be published in September 2020 by Biblioasis.

Sota terra

Robert Macfarlane (UK, 1976), Sota terra [Underland]; Angle; review of The Guardian

recommended poetry:

Laura López Granell (Barcelona, 1968), Coratge [Courage], Godall Eds.

SOURCE: “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, May 2, 2020, p. 8 [printed “emergency” edition]; publishers



Snippet: Ray Loriga, writer

The writer (, film director, etc.) Ray Loriga (Madrid, 1967) has been on the blogger’s mind for the past few years, probably just because of the interesting artist name. Recently he found out that some of Loriga’s books have already been translated into English.

Among these are (according to the Wikipedia):

Caídos del Cielo – La pistola de mi hermano [Fallen from the sky – My Brother’s Gun] (1995, English 1998)

Tokio ya no nos quiere [Tokyo Doesn’t Love Us Anymore] (1999, English 2003)


Rendición / Surrender, 224 p. (2017 – Alfaguara prize – English  2020)

Latest book, not translated (yet):

megustaleer - Sábado, domingo - Ray Loriga

Sábado, domingo [Saturday, Sunday], 2019, 224 p.

publisher’s summary:

«Everybody’s got a dark memory, a shadowy medusa that, in perfect symmetry, stains the future of his/her existence.»

Sábado, domingo tells a story and repeats it again years later. In the first one, an adolescent talks about a rough event of the previous summer. Together with his friend Chino, they go out on a Saturday and flirt with a waitress. The night seems to go well until everything goes wrong and ends in disaster: it’s a fatal Saturday that the narrator doesn’t want to remember. But after every Saturday, there is a Sunday.

25 years later, this adolescent, who is now a man with a lot of wrong decisions in tow, accompanies his daughter to a Halloween party at the international school outside of Madrid. There he talks to an unknown woman who hides behind the mask of a costume. The conversation, apparently inconsequential, quickly leads him to that night. There is no choice but to accept that finally it’s Sunday, the day that forces us to face our past.

Sábado, domingo is a novel about guilt, about the debts that one assumes as one’s own in life, and about the flight that imposes itself when accepting reality seems to be impossible.

There is a Wikipedia article in English with the full Loriga bibliography.

SOURCE: (cover pictures); Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Surrender); Alfaguara (PRH Spain; publisher Sábado, Domingo)

Snippet: 12 May 2020 – Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday [not Iberian]

Florence Nightingale

(c) Dalila Rovazzani, in E. Favilli, F. Cavallo, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, 2016, p. 69 (Catalan ed. 2017)

The Wikipedia article informs on Florence Nightingale’s [1820-1910] life and work.

The Guardian has devoted a great number of articles on Nightingale or her work over the years. The most literary one would be its recent “Top 10 books about nursing” (May 2020).

On the –then planned– 200th anniversary show (March 2020).

“Florence Nightingale, datajournalist” (August 2010)

Angel of mercy or power-crazed meddler” (September 2007).

Obituary (August 1910).


Snippet: “Nessun dorma” (Liceu i Millas)

The Liceu opera house in Barcelona published a lockdown video of the aria “Nessun dorma” from Turandot by Puccini on May 1, 2020. (More details at the SOURCE.)

Two years earlier, the writer Juan José Millás (Valencia, 1946)  published a novel with the same title.

megustaleer - Que nadie duerma - Juan José Millás

Juan José Millas, Que nadie duerma [Let nobody sleep], 2018, 216 p.

publisher’s summary:

«When your body and mind are in the same place, reality acquires an extraordinary light. Believe me.»

The day Lucía loses her job as a software programmer is also the day that her life takes a definitive turn, maybe due to a succession of coincidences, or maybe because this was the fate that awaited her since her tenth birthday.

As if it were an algorithm, Lucía establishes the following principles on which she wants to base her future existence: she will be a taxi driver; she will roam the roads of Madrid –or maybe Beijing– at the steering wheel of her taxi while she patiently waits for the occasion to drive her neighbor who disappeared, with whom she has fallen in love; and all the important events for her will have as soundtrack, from this moment onwards, Puccini’s opera Turandot, of which she feels being the protagonist.

The everyday and the extraordinary mix in this love and horror novel with an unforgettable female protagonist. In it there are all the keys to Millás’s narrative universe: irony, the splitting of the “I”, the different facets that compose reality, loneliness and the finding of an unchangeable truth, that which the mirror in which we look at our lives reflects back to us, unfailingly, an unusual perspective that can only be met with the purest astonishment. lists one book by Millás as available in English, From the shadows. Though the readers of the novel described here gave a high average rating, most of those who cared to write a longer review didn’t like the book; one considers the protagonist in urgent need of psychiatric care…

SOURCE: Liceu Barcelona; Alfaguara (PRH Spain, publisher)

Snippet: Sasturain’s “The last Hammett”

Juan Sasturain, El último Hammett [The last Hammett], 2020, 592 p.

Dashiell Hammett prize for best novel

publisher’s summary:

“In El último Hammett we find a narration in the third person in which the protagonist is Dashiell Hammett, already during the last years of his life and gripped by the impossibility to continue writing without being cheap or a parody, blocked in his own trap of exigency, terror and loss of vital references, trapped in real life that prevents him from getting to fiction and viceversa. […] A superb book with twilight and luminous flashes of flight from already dull stars, in this viewpoint of the end of a life and literary path of one of the incontestable fathers of that which ended up being the crime genre.”
from Carlos Zanón’s prologue

Juan Sasturain (Buenos Aires province, 1945) is a writer, journalist, script writer and TV presenter, and also the current director of the Argentinian National Library (Wikipedia, Spanish).


Happy World Book Day 2020!

IMG_20200423_sant jordi

Robert Walser, Der Spaziergang [the walk], ca. 1916

This year’s Sant Jordi [Saint George’s] will have two parts, the actual day in lockdown with some events retransmitted on Instagram; the Catalan regional government then wants to celebrate the typical feast of books and roses on July 23 – we’ll see if that will be possible…

If you would like to get an idea of a typical Sant Jordi day in Barcelona, read Moisés Naím’s 2016 article.

There are other, older post on World Book Day from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.

The Guardian offers Top 10 Latin American short stories.