Snippet: Alberto Ruy’s “The serpent’s dreams”

megustaleer - Los sueños de la serpiente (Mapa de las lenguas) - Alberto Ruy Sánchez

Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Los sueños de la serpiente [The serpent’s dreams], 2017, 304 p.

winner of the 2018 Mazatlán literature prize [named after and offered by a city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, Wikipedia (Spanish)]

publisher’s summary:

To retrieve his memory, a centenary man, locked up in a psychiatric ward, writes and draws at the walls of his cell the memories that are coming back. This throws him into an adventure through the big illusions and disappointments of his century, and leads him to discover the multiple lives that inhabit him. He has to invent his ancestors and let distill a deeper truth. He has to invent himself from a few shreds of memories or delusions.

His mystery becomes unraveled with shocks, silences and overflows: apparently he is a Mexican emigré to the United States, unhappily in love with the woman who will be seduced for other purposes than love by Trotsky’s assassin. Newly emigrated to the Soviet Union, he turns into a worker in the weapons plant that Henry Ford sold to Stalin to create a Utopian Soviet Detroit. Finally he will be the calligrapher and builder of this peculiar labyrinth. At the centenary of the Soviet Revolution, his testimony is an echo chamber of both, enthusiast and painful echoes. His catatonia and his awakening are those of the century. And they haven’t ended yet.


From J.A. Masoliver Ródenas’ review:

We are in front of a novel that is as complex as it is clear, audacious and exciting.


There is an English website dedicated to Alberto Ruy Sánchez (Mexico, D.F., 1951).


SOURCE: Alfaguara (PRH Spain; publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, June 9, 2018, p. 7 [printed edition]


Snippet: Hernández’ “The pain of the others”

Miguel Ángel Hernández, El dolor de los demás [The pain of the others], 2018, 312 p.

publisher’s summary:

On Christmas Eve 1995, Miguel Ángel Hernández’ best friend murdered his sister and took his life jumping into a gorge. It happened in a hamlet in the garden area of Murcia. Nobody ever knew why. The investigation was closed, and the crime remained for ever in oblivion. Twenty years later, when the wounds seem to have stopped bleeding and the mourning has been completed, the writer decides to return to the area and, putting himself into the detective’s skin, tries to reconstruct that tragic night that marked the end of his adolescence. But traveling in time always means changing the past, and the investigation wakes up ghosts that he believed to have left behind: the childhood marked by the Church, sin and guilt; the constant presence of disease and death; the oppressive and closed universe that one day he managed to leave behind. And with them there also emerges the experience of a contradictory nostalgia: the memory of a veiled happiness, the reunion with an unjustly buried origin.

A moving novel about the collision of two worlds and two ways of life. A superb narration in two times that brings the readers into a profound and unexplored Spain. A reckoning with the past. But, above all, a subtle and incisive meditation on the ethics of literature that, as the narrator of this story says in some moment, makes us become aware that “by writing one doesn’t always win,that sometimes we also shipwreck before the pain of the others.”

Anagrama has got a foreign rights page with some biographic information on Hernández and summaries of his previous novels published there, among them Escape attempt, which is available in English.

SOURCE: Anagrama (publisher)

Snippet: Mónica Baños, “Where the stars disappear” (juvenile literature)

Donde desaparecen las estrellas

Mónica Baños, Donde desaparecen las estrellas [Where the stars disappear], 2018, 320 p.

winner of the 6th La Caixa / Plataforma prize for a juvenile novel

from the news:

The 22-year-old law student Mónica Baños recently won the La Caixa / Plataforma literary prize for her debut novel Donde desaparecen las estrellas, endowed with 3,000 EUR plus the novel’s publication.


publisher’s summary:

If there is anything that characterizes the small coastal village of Melía, it is the popular belief that the stars can influence the lives of its inhabitants.

Gala lives there, a young woman who spends her days working in a flowershop. Everything changes with the return of Néstor, one of her closest childhood friends. But Gala is not the same one any longer: a series of events that took place during the past year have turned her into a lonely and somewhat aloof person.

When she gets the opportunity to work for the local newspaper, and thus dispel the bad memories that torment her, she meets on her way with Constanza, an elegant elderly lady who brings to light secrets of Gala’s family that are colored by pain but above all by hope.

Gala will have to learn to pardon the ghosts of her past while she find the way to pardon herself.

SOURCE: CCMA (ANC news agency) May 2, 2018; La Caixa (savings bank); Plataforma (publisher)

Snippet: Badal’s “things seen with nonexisting eyes”

les coses que realment han vist aquests ulls inexistents-josep lluis badal-9788416738144

Josep Lluís Badal, Les coses que realment han vist aquests ulls inexistents [The things that really have been seen by these nonexisting eyes], 2017, 264 p.

winner of the Premi Crítica Serra d’Or novel prize 2018 [not endowed, but prestigious, awarded by Serra d’Or magazine, a publication of Montserrat abbey]

Cover text:

There is an immense and unstructured night. But it’s “apostrophised” with our heart. It’s mid-afternoon, the weather is nice, father’s shirtsleeves are rolled up. Outside a dog barks, the elms throb, the attic tap drips. One can hear my brother’s blows, he is busy at the courtyard workshop. Mother is downstairs, serving at the shop, or better said, waiting for the first customer of the afternoon. The house smells of work, of cold food. A certain smell of earth, of hanging tomatoes, of potatoes on straw, of absence. Sitting on the sink, resting from the day, from work, from illness, from life, that in recent years he has insisted considering a farce, my father contemplates a cloud.

Underneath the red moustache he smiles.

I miss you.

SOURCE: Casa del libro (bookseller; Planeta); Publicacions d’Abadia de Montserrat (publisher)

Snippet: EDEBÉ prizes 2018 for children’s and juvenile literature

The prizes of the 26th edition of the edebé for children’s and juvenile literature were awarded on Feb. 1, 2018 – endowed with 55,000 EUR each.

Children’s literature: Soy una nuez [I’m a walnut] by Beatriz Osés, 2018, 128 p.

Soy una nuez

summary :

Illustrated by Jordi Sempere, Soy una nuez explains the story of Omar, an orphan child refugee. Walnuts are strong on the outside, and inside they have the form of a brain, explains Osés, the shell can be a boat. (La Vanguardia)

An original, funny and endearing novel that talks to us about the persons’ and the refugees’ loneliness.

My name is Omar and I am a walnut. My father was a gardener and my mother smelled like cinnamon. Both were eaten by the sea shortly before reaching the beach. I saw them disappear while floting in that nutshell together with other strangers. Of the three, only I wore a small lifevest with my name on it. It had been written by my mother so that I would never forget it. (edebé)

author information:

Beatriz Osés (1972, Madrid). Journalist, a graduate of Universidad Complutense, is a writer and teacher of [Spanish] Language and Literature. By her work she wants to incentivate her students’ creativity and foment reading through literary creation.

She has won numerous prizes for educational innovation and literary creation. Among her works published by edebé stand out Un cocodrilo para Laura [A crocodile for Laura] and the crime saga protagonized by Erik Vogler.


Juvenile literature: Desconocidos [Unknown], by David Lozano, 2018, 224 p.



Two young people who got in touch on the internet agree to meet in Barcelona; and on the Costa Brava [coast north of Barcelona] a female police inspector suspects of an alleged suicide. Lozano has got a lot of fans; he sold 150,000 copies of Donde surgen las sombras [Where the shadows emerge]. (La Vanguardia)

Two stories, the same night, and a dark suspicion.

Two lives cross late at night through the networks. Two youngsters who submit to a mysterious game: share their dreams, hopes and fears, but not their identity. They quickly take the next step: a blind date. But meeting with a stranger always involves risks. Because we all hide secrets…

A corpse. The body of a young guy, disfigured by the violence of the fall. A young life ruined for ever, a death that arouses more questions than answers. (edebé)

author information:

David Lozano Garbala (Zaragoza, 1974) is a law graduate of Universidad de Zaragoza. He has also got an M.A. in Communication and studied Spanish Philology. He worked as a lawyer, and nowadays he combines writing and teaching with working as a screenwriter for different Spanish production companies.

In 2006, he won the 28th Gran Angular prize of juvenile literature with the novel Donde surgen las sombras [Where the shadows emerge]. With Herejía [Heresy] he was runner-up of the Hache prize, with El ladrón de minutos [The thief of minutes] runner-up of the edebé of children’s literature; he is also the author of the gothic fantasy trilogy La Puerta Oscura [The dark door], that he is currently transforming into a cinema script. His novels have been translated into different languages and can be acquired in a dozen countries.

Edebé has published his children’s novel El ladrón de minutos [The thief of minutes], translated into German, Italian, Persian and Turkish.


SOURCE: Edebé (publisher; Osés, Lozano); La Vanguardia, Feb. 3, 2018, p. 33 [printed edition]

Snippet: Capdevila’s “Girl who wanted to draw”

La nena que volia dibuixar

Roser Capdevila, La nena que volia dibuixar [The girl who wanted to draw], 2018, 120 p.

publisher’s summary:

A grey postwar infancy, according to Roser Capdevila

La nena que volia dibuixar” is a splendid portrait of daily life during the first years of the Franco regime: from the manias, hobbies and routines of every family member, the girls’ education, over the greyness of the school, ever-present religion and the boring social relations, to the moments of freedom given by play, special holidays or excursions with friends. Roser Capdevila, with her extraordinary drawings and texts, makes of her personal memories universal memories. They bring the readers with a tender and detail-oriented view, not without criticism, to a bare and narrow society that slowly modernizes with the arrival of new household appliances and new habits. Born when the Spanish Civil War was about to end, Roser Capdevila has kept the significant details fresh in her memory, the precise nuance, the revealing anecdotes that explain how the country and the people were like.

Roser Capdevila (Barcelona, Jan. 23, 1939). From 1980 onwards she has devoted herself to writing and illustrating stories for different European publishing houses; until completing a bibliography with more than 300 titles, which made her the most translated Catalan author. She is the creator of the animation series Les Tres Bessones, Sans Barbe, Les Belles Histoires, La Bruixa Avorrida, Les Tres Bessones Bebés, and La gallina Koki.

A lot of Catalan (and Spanish) preschoolers during the past 20 years have enjoyed Capdevila’s Tres bessones [“three twins” = triplets] in the form of short videos, often narrating classic fairy tales in a new version.

SOURCE: Angle Ed. (publisher)

Snippet: Fuster’s Baroja family history

Cubierta de la obra Aire de familia

Francisco Fuster, Aire de familia. Historia íntima de los Baroja [Family air: intimate history of the Barojas], 2018, 200 p.

publisher’s summary:

Though it hardly ever happens, sometimes there’s the happy circumstance that in the seat of one family two – or more – siblings coincide in a successful cultivation of the arts or letters. Even less frequent is that this creative vein affects different generations of one and the same lineage, leading to what we call a “saga of artists.” This book wants to recreate the memory of one of these lineages, maybe the best known one in contemporary Spain, paying attention to that intimate and family private sphere, in which feelings and emotions emerge or are repressed. Definitely an invitation to the readers to get to know better the passionate history of this clan; and they are meant to do so through the words of its members, as nobody better but them have been able to describe this “family air” – never better said – so unique and special that for more than one hundred years has been breathed in the seat of this rarity of our recent past that have been – and are – the Barojas.

from Jordi Amat’s review:

[Fuster’s] approach to the literature… has been that of a historian of culture. […] And he comments [the books and articles] in an informative manner: he is an academic determined in the pursuit of the socialization of knowledge; a fact witnessed by the different text editions that he has edited. […]

The distillate of this fascination is the choral portrait just published. It seems as if the author had lived with the protagonists at the houses in Madrid and in Vera, attentive to their characters and taking note on the relationships the ones maintained with the others.

The Wikipedia offers this article on Pío Baroja, of whom quite a few works are available in English and who was admired by John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway.


SOURCE: Catedra (publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, May 19, 2018, pp. 20-21 [printed edition]