Toni Sala (b. 1969, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Girona) is an author of fiction and nonfiction as well as a secondary school teacher of Catalan literature. His books include the short story collections Entomologia (1997) and Bones notícies (2001); the novels Pere Marín (1998), Goril·la blanc (2002), Rodalies (2004, Sant Joan Prize and the National Prize for Catalan Literature), and Quatre dies a l’Àfrica (2005); and the book-length essay Petita crònica d’un professor a secundària (2001), a controversial bestseller in which the author exposed the frustration prevalent among educators with disarming sincerity and raw candor.
The Silent Woman is a novel that traces the events of the twentieth century and their dramatic influence on people’s lives. Sylva, half-German and half-Czech, is born into an aristocratic family in a sumptuous castle near Prague. With her husband, an ambassador in Paris, and later with her Russian boyfriend, Sylva witnesses the joyful madness of the 1920s and then the Nazi period of the ’30s and ’40s. During the Communist era, she loses all of her property and all of her loved ones. In the ’70s, a lonely old woman forgotten by all, she ends up living in a poor neighbourhood. That’s when she discovers the fate of her long-lost boyfriend: the Soviet regime had banished him to a Gulag. Sylva’s search for him begins…
We also follow Sylva’s son Jan, a world-famous mathematician who immigrates to the U.S. He earns a fortune, but struggles for understanding in his marriage to a beautiful Russian parvenu.
No Third Parties Are Involved is a collection of ten stories about the follies of modern life. They feature a mix of odd situations–ridiculous, decadent, comic, or endearing–and a broad array of characters that includes a Nobel Prize-winning writer, a journalist who doesn’t use a tape recorder or notebook, a late-night game show host, and an actress who has turned the corner into middle age. Author Empar Moliner presents–as she usually does–sketches of the everyday whose authenticity can touch a nerve, as many people, men and women alike, can easily recognize aspects of themselves in her characters. With her customary energy, she portrays situations of contemporary urban life through a filter of perceptive irony: Empar Moliner strips the world naked, amid wine, music, the internet, drugs and the city.
Mill Town Memories is a captivating novel that holds the reader’s attention with a skillful non-linear narrative technique. It immerses the reader in an industrial era, depicting life in one of the textile colonies that were such a vital part of Catalonia in the 1950s (the author lived in the Colonia Vidal from the age of six months until she was 20). It is a portrait of the heartland of Catalonia: its traditions, customs, and pressures to conform.
Due to the physical after-effects of a fateful traffic accident, a waiter in a roadside bar finds himself forced to give up his job and withdraw into himself. In this situation and out of the need to do something—anything—he resumes his old pastime of voracious reading, and begins to write. In an exercise of reminiscence superimposed on the most immediate present, the story becomes a magnificent and careful intertwining of crossed paths, encounters and misunderstandings among a wide variety of characters that were once part of the microcosm of the roadside bar. When he was working there he unwittingly became a witness to the ever-complicated human psyche, and to an everyday reality verging on decadence and disillusionment with a changing world shrouded in an atmosphere of pessimism. Ramon Erra’s extraordinary literary precision establishes him as one of the best current writers of Catalan fiction.
A Lake in Flames is a first novel, and also the first part of a trilogy that continues with The Sea of Minsk (La mar de Minsk) and Towers of Clay (Torres d’argila) and marks Hilari de Cara’s birth as a novelist. In this chronicle of characters and stories that touch on life, memory, hopes and ambitions, and sex, the author addresses his themes with sarcasm and, above all, a certain sense of terminus. The parallel plots are set in a village in present-day Mallorca and the Mallorca of the past; in the Barcelona of the 1970s and the Spanish Civil War. The novel is grounded in its author’s own personal experience, but is developed with irony and a style close to contemporary English-language fiction.
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