beatriz

The latest addition to my website is Lucia Etxebarría‘s Beatriz y los cuerpos celestes [Beatrice and the Heavenly Bodies]. This is the story of a young Spanish woman, Beatriz de la Haya, and her life at around the age of twenty. For a while she lives with Mónica, in the house of Mónica’s parents, who are, at the time, absent, he having moved permanently to Argentina and she a successful fashion journalist who is often travelling. Living there with the two women is Coco, a drug dealer. He provides the drugs, Mónica provides the accommodation and both Beatriz and Coco provide the sex for Mónica. Mónica gradually gets dragged into the lifestyle of the other two, delivering drugs for Coco, which, on on one occasion, turns out to be disastrous, selling drugs and even witnessing Coco steal at knife-point. It all goes horribly wrong and, for once, Beatriz’s father comes through, and ships her off to Edinburgh to study. But there she soon gets involved in a similar lifestyle, living with Caitlin (known as Cat), who is also heavily into drugs. She even manages a brief and not very successful relationship with a male student. She runs away from Edinburgh back to Madrid, sees Mónica who is now in a clinic for recovering heroin addicts and is left wondering what to do with her life. This is not a fun story, with Beatriz clearly struggling with finding out who she is and what she wants to be and not succeeding, living with her parents’ disastrous marriage and her own very poor relationship with her mother, but it clearly shows a young woman struggling with life in the modern drugs age. This novel won the Planeto Prize in 1998 and has been translated into seven languages. English is not one of them. Indeed, none of her works has been translated into English. I find that I keep saying this about the novels I read. I shall say it about the next novel I read, also a novel by a Planeta-winning Spanish woman writer.