Category: Barcelona

Juan Pablo Villalobos: La invasión del pueblo del espíritu (Invasion of the Spirit People)

The latest addition to my website is Juan Pablo VillalobosLa invasión del pueblo del espíritu (Invasion of the Spirit People) . Set in an unnamed city but almost certainly Barcelona, this novel follows Gastón, an immigrant who runs a market garden. His friend Max, has a restaurant but he has lost his lease and refuses to leave while Gastón’s dog called Kitten is dying of cancer. Meanwhile Pol, Max’s son is working in the tundra but suddenly appears, with tales of aliens using directed panspermia to control us, while Max’s father turns up, on the run from the authorities in his country. Gastón just wants to have Kitten die peacefully in his garden, not at the vet’s, while watching the greatest footballer on Earth play, though he, too, seems to have his problems. Immigration is clearly the main topic as most of the main characters are immigrants (including the footballer) and those from Russia and China face greater opposition from the local vigilantes but, in Villalobos’s view, they enrich the local culture. With his usual humour, colourful story and sympathy for the immigrants, Villalobos gives us another fine novel.

Juan Pablo Villalobos: No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea (I Don’t Expect Anyone To Believe Me)

The latest addition to my website is Juan Pablo Villalobos‘s No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea (I Don’t Expect Anyone To Believe Me). This is a brilliant novel about corruption and humour, about racism and academia. The main character is Juan Pablo Villalobos, a Mexican doctoral student who goes to Barcelona to study and gets caught up with a bunch of nasty gangsters who require him to change his life for their devious ends, with distinctly unpleasant consequences. Some of it is clearly tongue-in-cheek but much of it is serious, as Juan Pablo (the character) gets dragged more and more into the plot,at the expense of his studies and of his girlfriend, Valentina. It manages to combine much humour with a serious intent and accordingly works very well.

Eduardo Mendoza: Una comedia ligera (A Light Comedy)

The latest addition to my website is Eduardo Mendoza‘s Una comedia ligera (A Light Comedy) . It set in the late 1940s, in and around Barcelona, as with most of Mendoza’s work. Our hero is Carlos Prullàs, a popular and successful playwright, who writes light comedies. We follow him around for a long while – food, women, gossip – when, about halfway through the book, there is a murder and he is the prime suspect. In usual Mendoza style, there is complex investigation, with Carlos coming in touch with all strata of Barcelona society and Mendoza mocking them. With dirty deeds in high places, a royalist plot and Carlos almost getting murdered himself, the second half is definitely more lively than the first. The book has been translated into English but is long since out of print.

Eduardo Mendoza: Sin noticias de Gurb (No Word from Gurb)

The latest addition to my website is Eduardo Mendoza‘s Sin noticias de Gurb (No Word from Gurb). This follows Mendoza’s usual pattern, in that we see Barcelona and its inhabitants from the perspective of the narrator/protagonist. However, the difference is that the narrator is not from planet Earth but part of a two-man team (the eponymous Gurb is the other one) exploring the Universe. When they land, Gurb soon disappears and our narrator spends the rest of the book looking for him. We follow his struggle with humans, his view of humans and, in particular those from Barcelona, and his failed and increasingly ignored search for Gurb, as he is sidetracked by the difficulties of living on an alien planet. It is at times very funny, at others a bit silly.

Eduardo Mendoza: La ciudad de los prodigios (The City of Marvels)

The latest addition to my website is Eduardo Mendoza‘s La ciudad de los prodigios (The City of Marvels). This is something of an epic novel, following both the story of the city of Barcelona from the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition to the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition as well as following the story of Onofre Bouvila. Bouvila comes to Barcelona in 1887 to make his fortune and will end up the richest man in Spain and, possibly, in the world. While we can admire his resourcefulness, he is a very flawed human being. He is ruthless, cruel, ambitious and violent. As predicted by a fortune-teller, there are three women in his life and none of three comes out of their contact with him particularly well. Mendoza tells a fine tale about his beloved Barcelona, as we follow its history in some detail during a period when it is growing and changing, but it is Bouvila and his rise that makes the novel.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén