Snippet: Maria Climent’s “Gina”

megustaleer - Gina - Maria Climent

Maria Climent, Gina, 2019, 160 p.

publisher’s summary:

That life gets serious, Gina discovers suddenly and without any warning before: adolescence is still close and adult age, with all its responsibilities, seems to be far away; but one morning she wakes up with a strange feeling in her body, and after months of check-ups, she’s hit by a medical diagnosis that is as serious as unexpected.

This is the starting point of Gina, a tender and funny novel full of charm, that narrates in first person the tribulations of this hardly conventional thirty-something who tells us her life as if she whispered an exciting secret into our ear.

Gina’s voice is intelligent, funny and warm, uncomplexed and direct, very authentic; and she talks to us about love and s*x, about unbreakable friendships, about sickness and pain, about the desperate desire to be a mother, about the people she meets, about the reasons for things and the sense of life.

The author:

Maria Climent (Amposta, 1985) is a translationa and interpretation graduate, and she also studied scriptwriting. She lives in Barcelona where she works as a translator and community manager; before she also worked as a creative writing professor and a journalist. Gina is her first novel.

SOURCE: Alfaguara (Penguin Random House Spain, publisher)

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Snippet: 500 years of Havana [16 Nov]

(c) Why Not Cuba? [www.whynotcuba.com]

Though the official birthday of the Cuban capital Havana, 16 November, is still a few months away, there have been celebrations, exhibitions, etc. during all of 2019. The articles cited below might make good summer reading wherever it is hot and humid, and also where not — and watching from afar is more climate-friendly than actually going there. This blogger has come across the birthdate for the first time in an article by Mauricio Vicent in El País.

Some excerpts:

If in History half a millennium is nothing, it turns out that since its birth in 1519, under the tropical sun, here there met the four bloods and the four races, and they simmered until they formed a well-locked sauce. Ciboney and Taíno Indians, Spaniards and Europeans, conquerors and pirates, slaves torn away from Africa and brought to these lands together with their pantheon of divinities… and together with them 150,000 Chinese from Canton and Macao…, all of them with their singularities and their magic worlds as neighbors on this Caribbean island until condensating this distillate that the ethnologist Fernando Ortiz called “cubanidad o cubanía” [cubanity].

In the profound essence of this ajiaco [spicy stew], says Pablo Milanés, there reigns culture with a capital C. It doesn’t matter if one talks about architecture, music, painting, ballet, literature, chess, or poetry. […]

Cuba has brought forward three Cervantes prize laureates. And it is no coincidence that all three of them –Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Dulce María Loynaz, and Alejo Carpentier– converted La Habana into a character and protagonist of many of their works. It was certainly Carpentier who best captured the character of the Habanian and the “style without style” of the city. […]

If one talks about architecture, Havana is –and always has been– a great adventure, because there is not only one but many Havanas. The best known is the colonial, that of the five big squares and the military bulwarks of La Fuerza [the force] and La Cabaña [the cabin], that are UNESCO World Heritage sites. But there also exists a fabulous eclectic Havana, and a Havana decó, and also an incredible modern Havana. Beyond that there is also the Havana of the big roads –that of the Cerro, Monte, Infanta— that meander in every direction and protect the walkers from rain and sun. And the manorial Havana of El Vedado, or the exclusive one of the Quinta Avenida and the Country Club, or the seaport one of Regla and Casa Blanca. […] Havana, one feels that something seduces, attracts, traps, it doesn’t leave anybody indifferent. Sometimes the city is covered by a veil of decadence. But when you break the veil, there appears the splendour of its urbanism and of an architecture that lets you, on one single avenue, walk from the castles of the 16th century to the modernity of Richard Neutra.

There is an official website with events, picture gallery, etc.

Other articles on the 500th anniversary, found by a simple Google search:

16 November 2018, Granma (Communist party official newspaper)

28 January 2019, whynotcuba.com

25 March, The Daily Telegraph

28 June, euronews.com

 

This blog has got other articles on Cuba and its literature:

2018: “Cuba on my mind”

2016: “with Jané from Cuba to Barcelona”

2015: “Princess of Asturias award to Leonardo Padura”

2015: “Padura’s “The Man Who Loved Dogs”

Hugh Thomas’ Cuba: A History looks like a good book for those interested in more details. For current data, ironically the CIA World Factbook might be a reliable source.

SOURCE: El País, 30 Dec. 2018, pp. 30-31 [printed edition]

Snippet: Enzensberger on Buenaventura Durruti (1972/2019)

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Anarchy’s Brief Summer: The Life and Death of Buenaventura Durruti, 1972 (German original), 2019 (translation by Mike Mitchell), 264 p.

There is more information on this novel available at the U of Chicago Press.

The Wikipedia offers the following articles on Durruti and Enzensberger.

If one googles for Enzensberger’s title, one finds an “alternative” English translation by an anonymous translator for libcom.org from the Spanish version of Enzensberger’s book, i.e. an indirect translation, available in three different formats for e-reading.

Snippet: Publisher anniversaries (2019)

Quite a number of Spanish publishing houses celebrate their anniversaries in 2019, some with commemorative editions of the most important books of their catalogues, e.g.

Planeta group, 70th anniversary, Wikipedia

Tusquets, 50th anniversary; though since 2012 part of the Planeta group (Wikipedia [Catalan])

Anagrama, 50th anniversary: special edition; today part of Feltrinelli group (Wikipedia)

Minúscula, 20th anniversary: homepage [Spanish]

Duomo, 10th anniversary: special edition of Spanish and translated works

 

This blogger considers Anagrama and Minúscula the most important of the list…

SOURCE: Antonio Iturbe in his weekly column in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, June 29, 2019, p. 10 [printed edition]

Snippet: Sánchez-Garnica’s “Sofia’s suspicion”

Paloma Sánchez-Garnica, La sospecha de Sofía [Sofia’s suspicion] , 2019, 656 p.

publisher’s summary:

Sofia’s and Daniel’s boring life changes radically when he receives an anonymous letter in which he is told that Sagrario, whom he adores, is not his real mother, and that if he wants to know the truth about his origins, he needs to travel to Paris that same night. Intrigued, he asks his father about this, and his father tells him to let the past be past and not investigate too much. But there are questions that need an answer, and this search triggers a series of terrible events and unexpected encounters of unfortunate outcome, which disrupt his life and that of his wife Sofía for ever. Madrid, Paris and its May of 1968, the Berlin Wall, the Stasi and the KGB, the Spanish counterintelligence of the late Franco period, and three characters in search of their identity are the keys to this fantastic novel with the unmistakeable stamp of Paloma Sánchez-Garnica.

All of this sounds like good entertainment but not necessarily great literature. The blogger doesn’t remember how the book gained his attention; probably through a recommendation on “Página 2”, Spanish state TV’s literary program.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)