Carmen Amoraga: La vida era eso [Such Was Life]

vida

The latest addition to my website is Carmen Amoraga‘s La vida era eso [Such Was Life]. This is another book in my reading of this year’s literary prize winners/shortlisted books. This book won Spain’s Nadal Prize. It tells the story of Giuliana di Benedetto, an Argentinian of Italian origin who lives in Spain. At the beginning of the book, her husband, William, dies of cancer. The book tells of how she copes with this, using social media, particularly Facebook, to express her grief. The book is divided into five sections, each section corresponding to the traditional five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We follow her struggle to belong to a support group, her mixed memories of William, generally good, but sometimes bad, her inability, at times, to cope, how her daughters seem better able to cope than she does and even memories of her old boyfriend from before she met William. While it is certainly a poignant novel, well-written and does not descend into the mawkish and trite, as it could have done, I did not feel that this was a great book, worthy of winning a major literary prize. Of course, loss of a loved one to cancer is devastating and, of course, the survivor (survivor, not victim, as Giuliana is told) is going to go through a very mixed set of emotions but this does not, in my view, make for great, original literature.

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