The TripFiction Book Club July/August ’19 reads ‘A Summer Reunion’ by Fanny Blake
Novel set in post Civil War Catalonia (guest post by novelist, Isobel Blackthorn)
31st March 2018
Winds of the Night by Joan Sales, novel set in post Civil War Catalonia.
Set in the decades after the Spanish Civil War, with flashbacks to the various fronts on the battlefield, Joan Sales’ Winds of the Night centres on the long and introspective accounts of Cruells, a wayward priest seeking solace in the mountains, and a man he seems doomed to meet over and again, the seedy and corrupt, fascist opportunist, Lamoneda.
When Cruells, who fought on the Republican side of the war, is first approached by Lamoneda, who joins him in a Barcelona café for a cup of malt and a croissant, his curiosity as to the whereabouts of his old friend, Solerás is aroused.
What became of Solerás? It is a question that drives a simple plot. What ensues is a series of chances encounters interspersed with large chunks of backstory. The narrative is interior, moody, intense and given to angst-fuelled rants, yet through his characters, Sales offers a unique understanding of the complexities of the civil war, and it is worth persevering for the insights the novel contains.
Originally published in Catalan in 1983, Winds of the Night is a literary work presenting a war-ravaged and deeply scarred Barcelona and Catalonia, one far removed from the areas around Las Ramblas known to the average tourist. The narrative is thin on visual description, providing scant depictions of gloomy streetscapes, and leaving much to the reader’s own imagination.
A novel that stretches the bounds of what can be labelled ‘travel fiction’, Winds of the Night provides a disturbing portrait of a city at the centre of a region which still craves separation from Spain. Here is Barcelona at its most impoverished and depraved, a city stripped of its dignity, wounded and suffering. The novel will appeal to readers wanting a deeper historical understanding of the location. The translation is excellent.
Isobel Blackthorn for the TripFiction Team – Isobel is a prolific Australian novelist. She writes both contemporary/literary, thrillers and dark fiction. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and via her website
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