ten novels to recover in summer

On vacation time is longer. As soon as we clear the work schedule and reduce dependence on our social networks, we find ourselves in possession of a large number of hours to dedicate to whatever we feel like. For readers, that means books and more books.

As for suspended students, August is the month of “make-ups.” There are those who decide to embark on that thousand-page classic that they haven’t had time to sink their teeth into, but there are also those who look at the pile of novelties and intend to settle accounts with the year’s harvest.

In El Debate we propose some books from last yearfrom the summer of 2021 until now –in non-hierarchical or chronological order– that have caused talk or have left a mark on readers.

‘The river of ashes’, by Rafael Reig, Tusquets, 256 pages

We are not going to find out now Raphael King, whose career is more than established, but this book with memorial overtones is one of those that awaken the senses even if they are lethargic by the summer heat. An old man recently admitted to a luxury residence in the Sierra de Guadarrama recounts his love affairs and his relationship with his son while out there a plague of biblical dyes (very similar to the coronavirus) begins to wreak havoc . Reig has the ability to entertain and raise a smile shortly before or shortly after freezing us with a sentence of depth.

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‘Annihilation’, by Michel Houellebecq, Anagram, 608 pages

Houellebecq ceased to be a «child», but it is certainly still «terrible». His news is awaited with reverential passion among his many followers, almost as much interest as is shown by his detractors. Few writers like him have that lightning rod quality to absorb the spirit and spirits of the time we live in. And also, to generate debate with his works. With Annihilationthe Frenchman travels to the near future, 2027, the year in which a television star is running to win the presidential election. Houellebecq wraps the plot in thrillerwith notes of mystery, but deep down, as always, what matters to him is the portrait of the contemporary.

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‘Mrs. Potter Isn’t Exactly Santa Claus’, by Laura Fernández, Random House Literature, 608 pp.

Those who understand that fiction is making a safe return to bookstores say. Net and uninhibited fiction after years of almost tyrannical hegemony of autofiction. Mrs Potter is not exactly Santa Clausof the journalist and writer Laura Fernandez, would be one of the cases that validate this trend. The author pulls references that are not so canonical for the reader «indie» and shamelessly mixes scenes and characters that could well be from Roal Dhal or from Tim Burton. A good handful of independent awards have catapulted the story of the cantankerous Kimberly Clar Weymouth, author of the story of the book that also gives the title to Fernández’s volume.

Mrs Potter is not exactly Santa Claus

‘Paradise’. Abdulrazak Gurnah, Salamander, 304 pages

It never rains to everyone’s liking and there is never a Nobel Prize for Literature that does not generate discussion. A Abdulrazak Gurnah Very few people in Spain knew him when Swedish academics awarded him the famous award in October. Among other things because there was no translated work in our country. At the end of 2021 they were already edited by Salamandra Seaside, life after Y Paradise. The latter is a good loophole through which to sneak into the world of Gurnah’s colonial Africa through the eyes of a boy named Yusuf who finds himself immersed in a journey as raw as it is beautiful through the inclement African continent.

‘Masterpiece’, by Juan Tallón, Anagram, 328 pages

«How could a huge thirty-eight-ton sculpture by Richard Serra disappear from a warehouse in the Reina Sofía Museum?». The hook with which the Anagrama publishing house advertised Juan Tallón’s sui generis novel undoubtedly predicted a detective thriller. In this case, the mystery of the disappearance of Serra’s sculpture in the 1990s is important, yes, but knowing his final destination is not so important. Tallón, through a large number of narrative voices, breaks down the event and provokes valuable reflections on art, institutions and, in short, the functioning of a country. All this combined with the very intrahistory of the creation of the book, which the author includes in its pages.

‘Mrs. March’, by Virginia Feito, Lumen, 328 pages

The great success in the United States sparked interest in Spain in this novel by a cosmopolitan woman from Madrid who left everything to write it. De Feito was said then that she was the “Spanish Patricia Highsmith” and we already know that the work will jump to the cinema by the hand of Elizabeth Moss. This psychological thriller in which the woman who gives the book its title searches for the truth under the daily crust about her husband and herself has generated interest and, with it, likes and dislikes. There are opinions for all tastes. Now, with several months to go since publication, is a good time to find out where you stand.

‘A ridiculous story’, by Luis Landero, Tusquets, 288 pages

If you are one of those who likes to enter the news carefully and playing it safe, Luis Landero is always a good option. This book is a story of love and humor about Marcial, a self-demanding guy with a high self-esteem, who faces a woman who puts him in the face of his complexes. as reviewed Ana Calvo in these pages, «Landero shows off an irresistible comedy and handles the parody like «a multi-purpose knife», with which he displays deeper levels of reading. With this burlesque and ironic instrument he analyzes human miseries, ridicules the pretense of intellectuality with which mediocre men surround themselves, combats attempts to trivialize literature and renews literary creation».

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‘The City of the Living’, by Nicola Lagioia, Random House Literature, 464 pp

In 2016, a crime shocked all of Italy. Two young men of good position killed another of lower class after an orgy of sex and drugs. They claimed that they wanted to know “what it feels like” to take a person’s life. Following in the footsteps of Truman Capote’s Cold-blooded, Nicola Lagioia, who had just won the influential Strega Prize, decided to thoroughly reconstruct the case with testimonies from those involved. The city of the living has been one of the sensations of the year in the transalpine country and in ours, where it is already in its third edition. Dynamic and absorbing, this documentary novel grabs onto consciousness and explores the problem of empathy and the dark deposits of the human soul.

‘Timandra’, by Theodor Kallifatides, Gutenberg Galaxy, 192 pp

It is necessary to impute to the publisher Galaxia Gutenberg the wisdom of popularizing the Greek Kallifatides in Spain. Since 2019, with the edition of another life to live, the author has been quietly but steadily making his way into the library and the spirits of good readers. Timandra is, according to the author, “perhaps the best” of his novels. It will be, without a doubt, for those who are looking for a great love story wrapped in equal parts in philosophy and myth. the story of love bigger than life of the harlot Timandra and the boastful warrior Alcibiades spans the nearly thirty years of the Peloponnesian War. Here they parade Pericles, Plato, Socratesthe bustle of the agora, the disasters of war and the mirages and certainties of the flesh.

‘Where are you, beautiful world’, by Sally Rooney, Random House Literature, 328 pages

Around the young Irish writer and screenwriter, a fan phenomenon of independent literature has been created in a short time. Normal people, published in Spain in 2019, established her fame after Conversations between friends. Among the new generations, which are also the ones she portrays, this author finds her greatest supporters. In Where Are You, Beautiful World, Sally Rooney investigates love again through two friends in their thirties who share their reflections and experiences with men via email. In the background, the emptiness of modern relationships and the desperate search for that “beautiful world” to which we all aspire.

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