Manuel Rivas’s new Spanish Civil War novel translated

March 12, 2010

Amanda Hopkinson in The Independent:

Books Burn Badly, By Manuel Rivas trans. Jonathan Dunne

This is an exceptional book by an exceptional writer. Even among the near-industrial quantity of books now published on the Spanish Civil War, it is unusual. And within Manuel Rivas’s own measured and exquisite output, not only does it attain the stature of a magnum opus, being roughly the combined length of his four preceding novels (all ably translated from Galician by Jonathan Dunne). It combines the folkloric lyricism of his In the Wilderness with the theme of the civil war already pursued by his first novel, The Carpenter’s Pencil.

Essentially, this is the account of one day in the first year of the war, 19th August 1936, when pyres of books were assembled and abused by posses of Falangists on the beaches of Galicia, and its aftermath. Even Rivas, steeped in his native land, was formerly unaware of this event overlooked in previous histories. There can be little more emotive subject than for an author already absorbed by the legacy of the war to uncover the destruction of his literary antecedents.

More in The Independent.


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