Manuel Astur González

Teoksen Of Saints and Miracles tekijä

4 teosta 54 jäsentä 2 arvostelua

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Tekijän teokset

Of Saints and Miracles (2020) 42 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
La aurora cuando surge (2022) 7 kappaletta
Odio Paris 2013 1 kappale

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Of Saints and Miracles is a fascinating story (well, stories woven into one) that might take a little getting used to but, if you give it a chance, you'll be swept away.

A mystery, a child's story, it almost feels like you're visiting a magical world, but you're visiting a part of the country where many people have left and stories are all that remain, and as stories are wont to do, they become bigger than life.

Once you start, you won't want to put the book down, so have your refreshment and snack nearby when you begin. Recommended for those who enjoy modern fables or even magical realism, though I wouldn't consider this a work exactly in that genre.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via Edelweiss.
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Merkitty asiattomaksi
pomo58 | 1 muu arvostelu | Jul 7, 2023 |
Miracle in Asturias
Review of the Peirene Press paperback edition (expected publication July 6, 2022) translated by Claire Wadie from the Spanish language original "San, el libro de los milagros" (Saint, The Book of Miracles) (2020)

Of Saints and Miracles is a beautifully written and translated novel which evokes positive comparisons to Gabriel García Márquez' Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981) and to Jon McGregor's Reservoir 13 (2017) to cite one classic and one recent example of books centred around rural communities. All of these novels involve an overt death or, in the case of Reservoir 13, a disappearance & presumed death. The stronger comparison is in the way all three novels tell tales of the associated local community, delving into both past and future lives and into the nature and even the mythology of their worlds.

Astur's tale is the story of Marcelino, a simple farmer, who in a moment of spontaneous rage, kills his wayward younger brother who had returned home to their rural community of Cobre, in the province of Asturias in Northern Spain, in order to swindle the family farm from his sibling. That isn't a spoiler as you learn that story on the second page of the book.
And so, as the sun set on that July evening, Marcelino stopped and contemplated. The house, the stilt granary, the cart with its shaft reaching skyward, the dry straw, the ears of corn, the cows in a single spine coming home along the track, the dog’s bowl, the rusty drum among the nettles, the axe in the tree stump, the woodchips and the logs, the sawdust on the ground, even the moss that hugged the stones in the walls of the small vegetable plot, even the trees in the nearby woods and the mountain peaks: everything shimmered, silhouetted against the deep-blue sky, in which a single bright star heralded the coming of a new age. Everything, that is, except the large bloodstain in the sawdust, and his brother’s body, both so dark they seemed to trap the light, as if the black ink that was slowly flooding the valley was seeping directly from them, saturating the sky and drawing the shapes of bats, which began to dance around the yellowish light of Cobre’s lone street lamp.
The truth is, he never meant to hurt him.
- excerpt from Of Saints and Miracles

The killing sets off a picaresque journey across the lands and forests with a somewhat hapless group of police authorities who are unable to capture the suspect, who becomes revered as a Robin-Hood-like hero to his community who directly or indirectly assist him in his evasions. The tale regularly diverts from that escape to fill in the background of Marcelino's own family and of many of the locals, going back into both history and local mythology. There is perhaps even a magic realist encounter with forest nymphs, or you can read it as persons from actual real life if you wish, to increase the associations with Marquez, although the latter's Chronicle... is in his journalistic style, and not one of magic realism.

This book is already one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I suspect it will be a strong candidate for literary prizes related to translation in the upcoming year. Translator Claire Wadie is already the winner of the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize of 2021 and this is her first full length literary translation.

See photograph at
Author Manuel Astur. Image sourced from an interview at El Comercio.

See cover image at
Cover image of the original Spanish language edition. Image sourced from the publisher Acantilado.

I read Of Saints and Miracles in advance of its official publication date of July 6, 2022 due to my subscription to Peirene Press. Subscribers receive the publisher's books several weeks ahead of their official release date.

Of Saints and Miracles was also the May 2022 selection from the Republic of Consciousness Book of the Month (BotM) club. Subscriptions to the BotM support the annual Republic of Consciousness Prize for small independent publishers. I already know which book I am rooting for in the 2023 RoC Prize Competition.

Trivia and Links
Peirene Press will likely have a book launch in the next several weeks for Of Saints and Miracles and you can watch for that at their News and Events Page here. The Page currently (early June 2022) leads with an excerpt from the book.

Spanish language author interview in El Comercio, with Leticia Sánchez Ruiz (27/04/2020)
Spanish language author interview in El Confidencial, with Juan Soto Ivars (26/05/2020)
Spanish language author interview in Fusión Asturias, with Marta Malde (22/05/2020)
Spanish language author video interview in Pagino Dos, with Óscar López (16/06/2020)
Spanish language author interview in El Asombrario, by Luis Reguero (02/09/2020)
Spanish language author interview in Pliego Suelto, by Laeticia Rovecchio Antón (21/11/2020)
Spanish language interview in La Razón, by Concha García (19/12/2020)
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alanteder | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 4, 2022 |



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