Spain has long been, and remains today, a favorite destination for world and armchair travelers alike. From the timeless windmills of La Mancha depicted in Cervante’s Don Quixote to the Moorish splendor of the Alhambra in Granada, the bull runs of Pamplona, and the contemporary silhouette of the new Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain’s many treasures have enticed countless travelers to cross its borders. But there exists a Spain that lies, as Federico García Lorca wrote, “beyond the great caravans of rowdy tourists fond of cabarets and grand hotels.” That soul, depicted by Spain’s literary greats, lies waiting to be discovered within the pages of Spain: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.

Explore Spain’s rich literary landscape with some of the country’s best contemporary writers. Arranged geographically, these thirty stories—many of which appear in English for the first time—transport the reader through Spain’s many enchanting regions: experience a bull-run with Juan Goytisolo in Albacete, join Bernardo Atxaga in a Basque village, travel to the misty woods of Galicia with Manuel Rivas, and reminisce nostalgically with Julio Llamazares over black-and-white photos of his childhood Spain.

Peter Bush is Director of the Sebald International Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He edited The Voice of the Turtle, an anthology of Cuban stories (Grove), and is the translator of leading Hispanic writers including Nuria Amat, Juan Goytisolo, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Senel Paz.

Lisa Dillman is a lecturer in Spanish at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has translated biography, art history, and pedagogy in addition to Spanish, Catalan, Cuban, and Argentinian fiction. Her most recent translation is the novel Pot Pourri: Whistlings of a Vagabond, by Eugenio Cambaceres (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

We can hear a country speak and better learn its secrets through the voices of its great writers . . .
an engaging series—a compelling idea, thoughtfully executed.

Isabel Allende

  • Minorca
    • Laura Freixas, Daydream Island
  • Barcelona
    • Nuria Amat, The Wedding
    • Juan Marsé, Gang Warfare
    • Carme Riera, Is Angela There?
    • Quim Monzó, The Five Doorstops
  • Basque Country
    • Bernardo Atxaga, School Memory
    • Amaia Gabantxo, Your Gernika
    • Carlos Blanco Aguinaga, The Armoire
    • Javier Marías, Flesh Sunday
  • Asturias
    • Julián Ayesta, At the Beach
  • Galicia
    • Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín, Sibila
    • Manuel Rivas, The Confession
    • Germán Sierra, Amnesia
  • León
    • Julio Llamazares, Journey to the Moon
  • Aragón
    • Antón Castro, The Invisible Man
  • Castile
    • Miguel Delibes, The Dog
    • José Jiménez Lozano, What Happened in Atajo
  • Madrid
    • Javier Puebla, Mamá
    • Rosa Chacel, Siesta Light
    • Rafael Chirbes, Gran Vía
    • Lucía Etxebarria, Beatriz Comes Home
    • José Ferrer Bermejo, Let the Passengers Off
    • Angela Vallvey, Sex, Food, and the Family
    • Agustín Cerezales, No Reply
    • Andrés Barba, John Turner 1
  • Extremadura
    • Dulce Chacón, Black Oaks
  • Albacete
    • Juan Goytisolo, Sentimental Journey
  • Andalusia
    • Fernando Quiñones, Right All Along
    • Federico García Lorca, Holy Week in Granada
  • Canary Islands
    • Nivaria Tejera, Children Can Wait
  • Nuria Amat (1950– ) was born in Barcelona and has lived in Colombia, Mexico, Berlin, Paris, and the United States. She is a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Her novels, La intimidad (1997), El paisaje del alma (1999), and Reina de América (2003, City of Barcelona Prize for Literature) have established her as a leading writer in the Spanish language.
  • Bernardo Atxaga (1951– ) is the pseudonym of José Irazu Garmendia. In his early professional life he was an economist, teacher of Basque (Euskera), bookseller, printer, radio scriptwriter, and more. From the early 1980s he decided to concentrate on his writing and won national and international recognition with the publication of the novel Obabakoak, which won the National Literature Prize in 1989 and has been translated into more than twenty languages. He writes in Euskera and usually translates his own work into Spanish. He has recently been a visiting professor at Harvard University.
  • Julián Ayesta (1919–96) joined the fascist Falange in 1937 because it was “anti-government, anti-clerical, and pro-European.” After the defeat of the Second Republic, he entered the diplomatic service but received poor postings because he participated in critical meetings of the Club Tiempo Nuevo with dissident thinkers Ramón Tamames, Enrique Múgica, and Dionisio Ridruejo. He wrote one novel, Helena o el mar del verano (1952), published with the support of Nobel Prize–winning poet Vicente Aleixandre, and a number of short stories. A collection of his stories was republished in 2001.
  • Carlos Blanco (1926– ) was born in Irún and exiled to Mexico as a child after the Spanish Civil War. Since earning his Ph.D., he has taught at Mexico’s UNAM, the University of California, and in Spain. The author of books on Unamuno, Prados, Marxist literary theory, and modernism, he has also published four novels and a book of short stories, Carretera de Cuernavaca (Alfaguara 1990).
  • Antón Castro (1959– ) is a journalist and novelist who has for some time worked in Zaragoza, Aragón, where he edits the weekly cultural supplement of El Heraldo de Aragón. He published a prose work in Galician in 1997—Vida e Morte das Baleias. His most recent collection of stories in Spanish, Los seres imposibles (1998), is in the tradition of the Romantic poet Gustavo Bécquer. Castro organizes annual international literary encounters in the old Arab town of Albarracín.
  • Agustín Cerezales (ca. 1956– ) has worked as a journalist, translator, painter, decorator, and screenplay writer, among other things, and is the son of the late novelist Carmen Martín Gaite. This chronicle of the swinging Madrid of the 1980s comes from his collection of novellas, Perros verdes (1989).
  • Rosa Chacel (1898–1994) went into exile in 1938 during the civil war and lived in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, where she collaborated with Sur and translated Racine and Mallarmé. She returned to Spain in 1971 and was awarded the Critics Prize in 1976. Her novels The Memoirs of Leticia Valle (1945) and The Maravillas District (1976) offer new approaches to the writing of fiction and autobiography.
  • Dulce Chacón (1954– ) is a poet, playwright, and novelist whose writing often gives women a voice in situations such as war and domestic abuse where they tend to go unheard. The selection included here was taken from her novel Cielos de barro, for which she won the Azorín Prize in 2000.
  • Rafael Chirbes (1949– ) was born in Valencia and studied history in Madrid. He worked as a literary critic for years before turning to other journalistic pursuits as well as to fiction. His first novel, Mimoun, was translated into several languages. He has written five other novels, including La larga marcha (1996).
  • Miguel Delibes (1920– ) is among the most outstanding literary figures of contemporary Spanish literature. His first novel, La sombra del ciprés es alargada (1947), won the Nadal Prize. He creates an original form of the Spanish language, preserving rural or colloquial language in his portrayal of poor peasants and marginalized youth from northern Castile, in such novels as Las ratas (1962) and El camino (1950).
  • Lucía Etxebarria (1966– ) is a novelist, poet, essayist, and scriptwriter. She holds a doctorate from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where she also taught scriptwriting. She considers herself a typical Sagittarius rising—a born traveler with no fixed residence. “Beatriz Comes Home,” is an excerpt from the novel Beatriz y los cuerpos celestes, which won the Nadal Prize in 1998.
  • José Ferrer Bermejo was born in Alcalá de Henares and has lived most of his life in central Madrid. After studying history, teacher training, and navigation, he worked as a merchant marine for several years. He now works for the post office in Madrid. Bermejo has published five novels and three books of short stories.
  • Laura Freixas (1958– ) is a regular contributor to several newspapers and cultural publications and has translated the diaries of Virginia Woolf and André Gide. She has published two novels, the essay Mujeres y literatura (2000), edited the anthology Madres e hijas (Anagrama, 1996), and published two books of short stories.
  • Amaia Gabantxo (1973– ) was born in the Basque Country, where she grew up speaking both Basque and Spanish. She moved to England at age 20, and began to write in English. She now lives in Norwich, teaching literature at the University of East Anglia and writing reviews for the Times Literary Supplement. She is currently working on a novel dealing with fragmentation of identity and memory.
  • Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) is the best-known and most translated Spanish writer of the twentieth century. In 1931 he founded and directed the itinerant Republican theater group, La Barraca. He was executed by Fascists near Granada at the beginning of the civil war.
  • Juan Goytisolo (1931– ) went to Paris in “voluntary” exile in 1956 and has never returned to live in Spain. He now lives in Marrakesh. His prose and essays distinguish him as the contemporary Spanish writer who has made the strongest impact on the international world of writing and the younger generation of Spanish writers. This extract is from the first volume of his autobiography, Forbidden Territory, in which he describes his childhood and life as an angry young man of letters from the perspective of a writer gently but profoundly wielding the scalpel of poetic self-analysis.
  • Julio Llamazares (1955– ) was born in the village of Vegamián, León. The village disappeared beneath the waters of the Poma reservoir (now drained), and the experience marked him for life, permeating his writing. He won the Jorge Guillén Prize for poetry in 1982. His classic novel of vanishing rural Spain, La lluvia amarilla (1988), has been published in English. He now works as a journalist and writer in Madrid.
  • José Jiménez Lozano (1930– ) was born in Langa, Avila, Spain in 1930. He is the author of nine novels and numerous critical essays and short stories. He has published three collections of poetry: Tantas devastaciones (Valladolid, 1992), Un fulgor tan breve (Madrid, 1995), and El tiempo de Eurídice (Valladolid, 1996) and has received several important literary awards.
  • Javier Marías (1951– ) was born in Madrid. He has won many awards for his fiction including the Nelly Sachs Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, as well as the Spanish National Translation Prize for his translation of Tristram Shandy.
  • Juan Marsé (1933– ) worked as an unskilled worker in a jeweler’s shop from 1946 to 1960. Describing himself as a “worker-writer,” he won the Planeta Prize in 1978 and the European Literature Prize in 1994. He has created a fictional world from the communities of migrants of the poor rural south who lived in the industrial belt around Barcelona.
  • Quim Monzó (1952– ) is a leading Catalan writer of his generation and has won the National Prize for Catalan Literature and numerous other literary awards. Novelist Robert Coover has described him as “the most amusing Catalan writer I’ve read.”
  • Javier Puebla (1958– ) was born in Madrid, where he now lives after many years in New York, Barcelona, Dakar, and Murcia. The first writer ever to undertake the ambitious project of writing a story each day for an entire year, he has worked as a journalist and diplomat, and has also written two novels and two books of short stories.
  • Fernando Quiñones (1930–98) was a much-loved native of Cádiz. A prize-winning poet, novelist, journalist, essayist, and short story writer, his writing is firmly rooted in Andalusia. He is known for his love of the local language, land, and sea. Ater his death, the Fernando Quiñones Foundation was established to award an annual prize for literature.
  • Carme Riera (1948– ) is one of Catalunya’s best-known women writers. A professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, she has published numerous novels as well as short stories and scholarly works. She has won many literary prizes for her novels Una primavera per a Domenico Guarini, Joc de miralls, and Dins el darrer blau, a historical novel about the Inquisition in Mallorca. Riera is known for using dialect and popular speech without condescension.
  • Manuel Rivas (1957– ) is a journalist and writer. He writes in Galician and translates his own work into Spanish. He won the national Critics Prize for the novel The Carpenter’s Pencil, and his story “The Butterfly’s Tongue” has been made into a successful film.
  • Germán Sierra (1960– ) has published short stories, essays, and three novels. The most recent, Efectos secundarios, was awarded the Jaén Prize in 2000. Currently working as a neuroscientist at the University of Santiago de Compostela, he writes literary pieces that deal with the reciprocal interference between science and contemporary fiction.
  • Nivaria Tejera is the daughter of a Cuban mother and a Spanish father who was imprisoned during the war. A poet and novelist, her most recent novel is Espero la noche para soñarte, Revolución. She lives in Paris. The Ravine is narrated by an unnamed child from the Canary Islands during the civil war.
  • Angela Vallvey (1964– ) won the Nadal Prize for Fiction in 2002. She lives between Geneva and Getafe. Her satirical novel Hunting the Last Wild Man (1999) has been translated into English, French, and Italian. She has also published children’s fiction and poetry and won the Jaén Prize for Poetry in 1998.
  • Margaret Jull Costa has translated many novels and short stories by Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin American writers, among them Mário de Sá-Carneiro, José Régio, Bernardo Atxaga, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, Juan José Saer, and Luis Fernando Verissimo. She has won numerous prizes for her translations, including the Weidenfeld Translation Prize for José Saramago’s All the Names. She is preparing new translations of all the novels of Eça de Queiroz for Dedalus Books.
  • D.A. Démers is a translator, literary critic, and associate editor of Caliban. She lives in Madrid.
  • Cola Franzen lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and translates the creative work of Alicia Borinsky, Saúl Yurkievich, and Juan Cameron. She has also translated works by Claudio Guillén and Guillermo Núñez. She is a member and past secretary-treasurer of ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) and vice-president of Language Research, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Amaia Gabantxo was born in the Basque country, where she grew up speaking both Basque and Spanish. She moved to England at age 20, and began to write in English. She now lives in Norwich, teaching literature at the University of East Anglia and writing reviews for the Times Literary Supplement.
  • Helen Lane has translated the work of Juan Goytisolo, Octavio Paz, Luisa Valenzuela, Juan José Saer, Ernesto Sábato, and Mario Vargas Llosa, and has received many awards—notably the NBA, the Gulbenkian, and PEN Club Translation Prizes. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Carol Maier teaches Spanish and translation at Kent State University (USA), where she serves as graduate coordinator and is affiliated with the Institute for Applied Linguistics. Her translations include Rosa Chacel’s Memoirs of Leticia Valle, María Zambrano’s Delirium and Destiny, Octavio Armand’s Refractions, and (with Suzanne Jill Levine) Severo Sarduy’s Christ on the Rue Jacob. Her essay about the poetics of exile appears in Translation and Power, edited by Maria Tymozcko and Edwin Gentzler.
  • John McCarthy is a translator and interpreter based in London who also lectures on translation and interpreting at a number of universities. In addition to literary and academic projects he also works in legal and social aid for refugees, commercial translation, and conference interpreting.
  • Anne McLean studied history in London, Ontario, and literary translation in London, England. She has translated Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs, and other writings by authors including Julio Cortázar, Orlando González Esteva, Ignacio Padilla, Luis Sepúlveda, and Paula Varsavsky. Her most recent translations are Living’s the Strange Thing by Carmen Martín Gaite and Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas.
  • Barbara Paschke is a freelance translator who lives in San Francisco. Her publications include Riverbed of Memory (City Lights), translations of poems by Daisy Zamora of Nicaragua, and a children’s story by Alberto Blanco from Mexico (The Desert Mermaid, Children’s Book Press). She has co-edited two books of Central American poetry in translation (Volcan, City Lights Books, and Clandestine Poems, Curbstone) and one of Central American short stories (Clamor of Innocence, City Lights). She has contributed translations to a number of books, including Tomorrow Triumphant (selected poems of Otto Rene Castillo, Night Horn Books), two volumes of short stories from Whereabouts Press (Costa Rica and Cuba), and numerous journals.
  • Barbara D. Riess, assistant professor of Spanish at Allegheny College, received her Ph.D. in Latin American Literature and Translation from Arizona State University in 1999. Co-translator of the underground classic Chicano novel Puppet (New Mexico Press, 2001), with articles published in journals and encyclopedias, her most recent project is a collection of stories by Cuban author María Elena Llana: Havana’s Ghosts: Those That Neither Left Nor Stayed Behind.
  • John Rutherford is a fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, where he teaches Spanish, Spanish-American, and Galician language and literature. He has also translated La Regenta by Leopoldo Alas (Clarín) and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, both for Penguin Classics. At Oxford he runs a weekly Galician translation workshop, the members of which helped with the translation from the Galician language of the story by Méndez Ferrín. For the translation of La Regenta he was decorated in 1984 by King Juan Carlos of Spain with the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes.
  • Cristina de la Torre has translated three novels: Absent Love (Crónica del desamor) by Rosa Montero (Spain), Mirror Images (Joc de miralls/Por persona interpuesta) by Carme Riera (Spain), and A Single, Numberless Death (Una sola muerte numerosa) by Nora Strejilevich (Argentina) as well as numerous short stories. She lives in Atlanta and teaches Spanish at Emory University.

SPAIN: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
Trade paperback original
5 x 7¼, 256 pp.
ISBN 9781883513122
Publication date: April 2003

Excerpts to come.

Posted on 24 February 2010

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