Book Review: Spain’s Great Untranslated

Suzanne Buck
3 min read
Found in Translation
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Spain’s Great Untranslated, a new anthology of literature by contemporary Spanish authors edited by Javier Aparicio, Aurelio Major and Mercedes Monmany, is a fascinating and entertaining collection of poems, short stories and essays. Dealing with issues as disparate as terrorism, love, grief and addiction, covered styles range from the darkly comic to the starkly tragic.

Antonio Gamonada’s poem“ Rage” tells of grief and loss with small, sharp bits of imagery that leave melancholy trails behind them, while Pere Gimferrer’s excerpt from his larger poem, “Rhapsody,” is lush and lyrical. Other poets included in the anthology are Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas and Olvido García Valdés.

A standout among the prose pieces is “Mangled Flesh,” Fernando Aramburu’s poignant rendering of the Madrid train bombing. In that short story, the author uses a stream-of-consciousness format to move between different voices—those of victims, family members, first responders, survivors—combining their stories in a seamless and powerful way.

In contrast, Miquel de Polol’s disturbing short story, “Under the Sign of Anaximander,” is about a young man whose horrific childhood experiences lead him to a life of crime and philosophy that he believes will “recalibrate the scales of justice” and ultimately redeem him. This piece is caustic and darkly funny, slyly asking biting questions about the nature of good and evil in modern society.

All of the selections in this anthology are well worth the read, and the pieces were chosen for this publication by the authors themselves. The poetry, fortunately, is presented in both the original Spanish and with English translations, though this isn’t true of the essays and short stories, of which only the translation is provided. This collection is a wonderful way to get to know the work of contemporary Spanish authors—it’s a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable read.

A discussion with Ignacio Martinez de Pisón and translator Anne McLean, based on the pieces in this anthology, will be moderated by Professor Santiago Vaquera on Friday, Oct. 4, at noon at UNM’s Student Union Building.

At 6pm, a panel discussion including writer Susana Rivera (moderator), Martinez de Pisón Anne McLean and Margaret Randall will take place at the Instituto Cervantes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW).

Books will be on sale and a glass of Spanish wine will be offered after the NHCC panel discussion. RSVP at
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