24 June 2021
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Showcasing alluring hairdressers, war defectors, vampiric babies and talismanic mandrake roots, this daring new collection celebrates the richness and variety of the Spanish short story.
From Emilia Pardo Bazán and Leopoldo Alas, through Mercè Rodoreda and Manuel Rivas, to Ana Maria Matute and Javier Marías, it brims with romance, horror, history, farce, strangeness and beauty.
Featuring over fifty stories selected by revered translator Margaret Jull Costa, it blends old favourites and hidden gems – over two thirds of which have never before been translated into English – and introduces readers to surprising new voices as well as giants of Spanish literary culture. Ordered by date of birth to give a sense of Spain’s turbulent history from the nineteenth century to the present day, it is a treasure trove both for hispanophiles and for those new to Spain’s greatest storytellers.
📖 My Thoughts..
I am delighted to have as my featured book of the month this wonderful collection of Spanish Short Stories which collectively make the perfect way to spend a pleasant afternoon just dipping into and out wherever your fancy takes you, and with over fifty stories to choose from there's bound to be something to please every taste.
The stories are cleverly arranged chronologically from the date of the author's birth and range from the mid-nineteenth century, through to the last featured author who was born in the mid-nineteen eighties. Though I wasn't familiar with any of the authors that really didn't matter as each story has a short snippet of biographical information at the start so that it is easy to place into context when the story was written.
As with any anthology there are bound to be stories which appeal more than others but my interest was well and truly piqued by the opening story entitled The Novel on the Tram by Benito Pérez Galdós a clever little story which combines a touch of fantasy together with an authentic sense of time and place. Some of the stories are longer than others so take a little longer to read whilst others are just a couple of pages long and can be read in the time it takes to make a coffee. What comes across is that they all entertain on their own special level and there's a good index to peruse so that it's easy to find something to enjoy.
The pop art inspired cover of the book is particularly striking, it conjures a beautiful summer day by a pool with the opportunity to sit and relax and that's exactly what this fascinating book of short stories offers, it's a chance to escape from the mundane banality of day to day chores and step into the imaginative writing of this impressive group of Spanish authors.
I am delighted to make The Penguin Book of Spanish Short Stories my Featured Book of the Month for July.
Incidentally the cover illustration is taken from Dreamed House by Alejos Lorenzo
About the Editor
Margaret Jull Costa has translated the works of many Spanish and Portuguese writers, among them novelists: Javier Marías, José Saramago and Eça de Queiroz, and poets: Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Mário de Sá-Carneiro and Ana Luísa Amaral. Her work has brought her numerous prizes, most recently, the 2018 Premio Valle-Inclán for On the Edge by Rafael Chirbes. In 2014, she was awarded an OBE for services to literature.