Category Historical fiction

On the new English translation of Eduardo Mendoza’s “Rina de gatos” and the joy of finally being able to satisfy Books on Spain’s web searchers

In 2010, a novel by Eduardo Mendoza called Riña de gatos: Madrid 1936 won Spain’s prestigious Premio Planeta and in January 2011, I reviewed it on this blog. It’s quite a fun novel, and I rather enjoyed it, mostly thanks to Mendoza’s imaginative recreation of a slightly daffy Englishman’s perspective on the all-too-familiar events of the […]

Holiday Reading (2): On not reviewing Clare Clark’s “Beautiful Lies”, or, the stranger-than-fiction lives of Gabriela and Robert Cunninghame Graham

So, back to The Holiday. As I think I might just possibly have mentioned before, the major priorities for the week, other than a touch of sightseeing and a generous sampling of sack, were swimming and reading, reading and swimming, swimming, reading, and swimming some more. And as you can see (left), the conditions were […]

Holiday Reading (1): La Catedral del Mar = the Spanish Pillars of the Earth (sort of)

So as you know, I’m interested in bestsellers, especially (but not only) in their Spanish incarnation. In fact, I have a whole blog category about them. But the problem with bestsellers is that they tend to be really, really long and, as last spring’s reading marathon showed, they seem to be getting longer all the time. What […]

This is not a review of Inma Chacon’s Tiempo de arena (runner-up, Premio Planeta 2011)

This was going to be a review of Tiempo de arena [Time of Sand], by Inma Chacón (above), which I picked up in Tenerife airport a couple of weeks ago and have been gripped by ever since. And then I finished the novel and did a bit of googling and discovered that it’s a sequel! A secret sequel! […]

Not dead yet! And here’s what I’ve been up to…

Gosh. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? So, you’ll be pleased to know (I hope) that the post title is true. The blog and I are Not Dead Yet (look out – sound!); it’s just that various professional obligations have been keeping me busy and travelling – although my newly-acquired toy-cum-travelling-companion  means that my books […]

Helen Forrester (1919-2011), author of The Liverpool Basque, has died

I was very sad to hear today that Helen Forrester, author of the wonderful 1993 novel The Liverpool Basque, has died at the age of 92.  . Of course, The Liverpool Basque isn’t among Forrester’s best-known works- in fact, this vivid and emotional hymn to a vanished community is rarely mentioned in accounts of her career. She made […]

Premio Planeta 2011 | Javier Moro, El imperio eres tu (The Empire is You)

 This past weekend saw the award of Spain’s most prestigious prize for fiction, the Premio Planeta. This year’s winner – the Spanish novelist Javier Moro, for El imperio eres tu (The Empire is You), about the first Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro I (1798-1834). This, the 60th Planeta Prize, received nearly 500 entries, which is hardly […]

Un coup de foudre littéraire, or, My First Week With the Kindle

So I’m going to be travelling a lot over the next four months – three or four work trips to Spain and two to the US. And as you know, I love to read. I have a long history of schlepping piles of books across international borders (you have to take a lot because you […]

Books on Spain 2.0 | Rants, Reviews and a new book-in-progress

First up, thank you everybody for the lovely comments on my blogiversary post! Of course, I wrote it and promptly went off on holiday, hence this belated acknowledgment- but now I’m back and raring to get started on the next 12 months of rants and reviews. From September, this blog will also be home to updates […]

Summer Reading Marathon: Maria Duenas’s EL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS, or, the ultimate in mid-career academic self-reinvention

Ready … get set …. read! Now I’ve recovered from the marathon that was Julia Navarro’s Dime quien soy, and after a couple of months devoted largely to trashy Edwardian fiction, I’m finally ready to begin the next Project Bestseller marathon read. As promised, my next big Spanish bestseller is María Dueñas’s El tiempo entre costuras (The Time Between Seams). […]

Review (finally!) | Julia Navarro’s DIME QUIEN SOY

So I finished it. A couple of weeks ago now, actually. I made it through all 1097 pages of Julia Navarro’s epic bestselling novel Dime quién soy (Tell me who I am; Plaza y Janés, 2010) and ever since I have been trying to figure out what to write in this review. See, it’s not that I […]

Some Postcards, a Royal Wedding (no, not that one), and a Review

Wherever you are in the world, especially if you’re in an English-speaking country or Northern Europe, the great excitement over the upcoming British Royal Wedding probably won’t have escaped you. Prince William and Kate Middleton will be tying the knot in Westminster Abbey this Friday, 29th April, and the nation is rejoicing (largely, it must be […]

Dime quien soy Reading Marathon – Progress Report

At last! I’ve reached the final stretch of the Dime quien soy marathon – as of last night, I’m at p.655 and the last of four main sections. To be honest, since the book’s a little … ahem … hefty to carry around with me, the process is proving more like interval training than a […]

Announcement! Books on Spain Marathon: DIME QUIEN SOY

It’s true! After buying Julia Navarro’s bestselling monster novel Dime quién soy (Tell me who I am) on my last trip to Spain, and lugging all 1100 pages of the giant hardback across Spain and through the Pennines on my unscheduled diversion via Doncaster (blame the December snows), I have *finally* cracked it open today […]

The pre-semester deluge and a new look, or, good intentions but little of substance

Is it really the 20th of January already? In my world, that means 11 days until the new semester, when I will be teaching a brand new module for final-year undergraduates. A module that has existed in my mind since last spring, but which now has to become reality aka a syllabus, handouts, worksheets and […]

Review: Eduardo Mendoza’s “Rina de gatos. Madrid, 1936” (2010)

The events and intrigues of the months leading up to Spain’s devastating Civil War of 1936-1939 have been chewed over, thoroughly digested and well … you know the rest … by historians of all hues during the last three quarters of a century. Nonetheless, Eduardo Mendoza (official webpage), one of Spain’s most established novelists, has managed […]

Mini-review (and a spot of pedantry)| El sueno del celta, by Mario Vargas Llosa

 It’s amazing what you can achieve on an 8-hour train journey – in this case, reading almost the whole of the first Mario Vargas Llosa novel I have ever read of my own free will. Oh, it’s not the first one I’ve read – that honour goes to La ciudad y los perros (English trans: […]

Christmas Book Suggestions from Papeles Perdidos (El Pais)

“El recuerdo que deja un libro es a veces más importante que el libro en sí”, dijo una vez Adolfo Bioy Casares. Y todos hemos tenido esa experiencia. El País Semanal Especial Navidad, del domingo pasado, publicó una serie de sugerencias de todo tipo para regalar en diciembre y ahí estaban los libros, claro. Ese […]

Photoblogging from my mobile #1, or, a quiet weekend with a spot of reading

Review: Dave Boling’s Guernica

How do we give voice to the individual stories behind a cataclysmic event that transformed our understanding of humanity’s capacity for violence and yet is better remembered for its contribution to the rather more sanitised world of international art? That’s the question behind the debut novel Guernica, by the US sports writer Dave Boling, published in 2008. Boling […]