Spanish Literature Month – July 2012

There have been requests last year and then a rumour started to spread and now it’s official: July is Spanish Literature Month. Stu (Winstonsdad’s Blog) and Richard (Caravana de recuerdos) who co-host this event have organized a watchalong (Carlos Saura) and two readalongs (Juan Carlos Onetti A Brief Life and Enrique Vila-Matas Bartleby and Co.) but if you cannot make them you are free to choose whatever you like. If you want to join, just leave a comment at one of the two blogs. Here’s Stu’s intro post and here the one by Richard.

As you can see I have an idea what I would like to read. Since I may not be able to read a lot, I want at least to read one of the books I have in Spanish. A few years back I bought Un mundo para Julius by Peruvian writer Alfredo Bryce Echenique. I like books about the end of an era. They are usually lyrical, nostalgic and melancholic. This seems to be no exception.

It has been translated into English as A World for Julius.

Julius was born in a mansion on Salaverry Avenue, directly across from the old San Felipe Hippodrome.” Life-size Disney characters and cowboy movie heroes romp across the walls of his nursery. Out in the carriage house, his great-grandfather’s ornate, moldering carriage takes him on imaginary adventures. But Julius’s father is dead, and his beautiful young mother passes through her children’s lives like an ephemeral shooting star. Despite the soft shelter of family and money, hard realities overshadow Julius’s expanding world, just as the rugged Andes loom over his home in Lima. This lyrical, richly textured novel, first published in 1970 as Un mundo para Julius, opens new territory in Latin American literature with its focus on the social elite of Peru. A member of that elite, Bryce Echenique incisively charts the decline of an influential, centuries-old aristocratic family who becomes nouveaux riches with the invasion of foreign capital in the 1950s. A World for Julius, his first novel, marks the first appearance in English of this important Peruvian writer, whose Latin American postmodern fiction has won critical acclaim throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

I may end up reading something less challenging in terms of pages. Two authors I like a lot are Almudena Grandes from Spain and Maria Luisa Bombal from Chile. I still have some of their books I have not read.

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The crime novels by Teresa Solana A Not So Perfect Crime and A Shortcut to Paradise are possible choices as well.

Or another Peruvian author. I just recently got Vargas Llosa’s Death in the Andes – Lituma en los Andes.

Set in an isolated, run down community in the Peruvian Andes, Vargas Llosa’s riveting novel tells the story of a series of mysterious disappearances involving the Shining Path guerrillas and a local couple performing cannibalistic sacrifices with strange similarities to the Dionysian rituals of ancient Greece. Part-detective novel and part-political allegory, it offers a panoramic view of Peruvian society; not only of the current political violence and social upheaval, but also of the country’s past, and its connection to Indian culture and to pre-Hispanic mysticism.

I have read Juan Carlos Onetti before and liked him very much. To make sure that I really read at least something, I will join the readalong of A Brief Life. The details can be found on Richard’s and Stu’s blog.

I could suggest some other books but I think Stu and Richard are doing a great job at pointing out books you should discover.

Are you joining as well? What are you going to read? Do you have favourites of Latin American and Spanish literature?

39 thoughts on “Spanish Literature Month – July 2012

  1. What an interesting selection, Caroline! I haven’t read any of them except Lituma en los Andes, which I liked a lot.
    Personally, I’ll be joining in with the “Bartleby y compañía” readalong.

    • Thanks, Bettina. I’m glad you liked the Vargas Llosa. I’ve read a few of his books and normally like him. I hope I get to read at least one or two books, apart from the Onetti. I would like to read the Vila-matas at some point but not just now.

  2. Thanks for the plug, Caroline, and I love all these potential reads/suggestions of yours (I’m particularly curious about the Bryce Echenique since I’ve only read one short story by him and the Almudena Grandes since the novel I want to read by her is something like 1,000 pages or so–too long for now). Stu and I both plan to come up with suggested reads posts of our own at some point, but please don’t hesitate to offer more of your own if/as time permits. Glad that people seem so excited about the event, but you predicted that in advance a long time ago as I recall. Cheers!

    • You’re welcome Richard. I hope I can read Un mundo para Julius. I’ve read Los aires dificiles by Almudena Grandes and some others. They are all very good. I think yours is El Corazon helado. I’d like to read that as well.
      Yes, indeed, I never doubted people would be interested.

  3. I’m in … I think. Not sure what I’ll pick but one of the questions I had was the choice from Spain, but you’ve answered that in the post. I’ll did around here with the stuff I already have.

  4. I went through a period where I read a lot of South American/Mexican literature (not all in translation though–lots by Hispanic Americans), but that was in my pre-blogging days. I’m trying not to be tempted by readalongs, but I probably will be so in the end–will just keep it in the back of my mind for now. I do have the Onetti on hand. I also have a couple of Teresa Solana’s crime novels that I wouldn’t mind reading. Are you planning on doing another German lit month later in the year?

    • You can read anything you like, the readalongs are just one part of it. The Onetti isn’t too long, so I think I might manage but I have to cut down as well.
      I would like to do another German Literature Month but Lizzy is so busy. It’s not decided at all.

  5. I’m joining the Bartleby bandwagon. I have a different Onetti book with me (The Shipyard) but I’m not sure yet if this is what I’ll eventually pick up.

    • I’m interested to see what everyone will think of the Bartleby. I’t seems far more a re joing that readalong. I alwaays menat to read more of Onetti, so it’s an opportunity.
      I’m looking forward to see your choices.

  6. Oh, this sounds fun! I haven’t read too much literature from Latin America or Spain, but I have really liked what I’ve read so far. I’ll probably join in with a Gabriel Garcia Marquez title. I’ve got a couple on my to-read list.

    • It’s great to hear that you will join.
      I think the whole months is a great idea. I used to read such a lot of Latin American literature but then for one reason or the other I went into other directions. It will be great to return for a while.
      I still have the one or the other unread Marquez on my piles as well. I like his writing very much.

  7. I’m also up for the Bartleby readalong – I already own a copy of that. I’m a bit afraid I’m going to confuse the Spanish lit month with the Dutch lit month and read the wrong book at the wrong time! I am bad with dates…

    • I’m looking forward to your review. It’s an interesting book.
      You should be fine. Dutch Literature Month is a month earlier. Or has Iris set her readalong date in July?
      I need to be careful with readalongs. I’m far more likely to enjoy the Onetti at this point in time.
      July in Paris is due again this year as well and I don’t want to miss that. It was one of my favourite events last year.

  8. This is wonderful news, Caroline! I have a book of Latin American short stories and I hope I can read some of them for Spanish literature month. And then there is a book of Roberto Bolano short stories which I have been wanting to read for a while. Except for ‘Death in the Andes’ I haven’t heard of any of the books you are planning to read. They look wonderful from your description. I can’t wait to find out what everyone else is reading.

    • How great that you will join. You always write the most amazing posts on your short story collections.
      Make sure to leave a comment and Richard or Stu can include you in their list.
      I have a book with Bolaños short stories as well… Didn’t even think of it.
      I’m very keen on reading A World for Julius.
      It will be very interesting to see what others pick.

  9. I had a long-time (unfulfilled) interest in reading Bartleby & Co, but Obooki’s recent posts about it have cooled my interest.

    I still have plenty to choose from: 2 by Marias, an Aira novella, or possibly I could tackle the Bolano doorstops (Savage Detectives and 2666) that have sat unopened for a few years now. Most likely though I’ll read Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos.

    • I think we are on the same page. After having read Melville’s Bartleby last year, I was quite enthusisatic about the Vila-Matas and then saw it finished off by obooki… Plus I don’t own it.
      I have a few others, Marias too but I thought it would be nice to choose something hardly anny blogger has read so far. But Marias is on the top of my list… If you want to tackle 2666 it might be wise to start soon.

    • What terrible influence I seem to have! – I think it’s an OK book if you like that sort of thing (i.e. lots of post-modern referencing), but after a while just gets a bit samey. – I wrote more posts on it than any other work, and the post about all the made-up characters gets lots of interesting hits (it may become my most popular post!).

      • You are a terrible influence. I like books you don’t like still something in your review made me think it might not be something I would like much at this point in time.
        Not like Lampedusa. I’m just waiting for the right moment to read it. Whatever that means.
        Those most popular posts amaze me all the time. In my case Nada is becoming more and more popular.

  10. I’ll try to participate.

    To be honest, I’m not a great reader of South American literature and I wasn’t thrilled by the few ones I tried, which didn’t encourage me to read some more. But I keep thinking I picked the wrong ones.

    • Great that you will join. Maybe you should try a Spanish author. I find they are very different from Latin American writers. I’m sure you would find something.

    • That would be nice. I have already started with Un mundo para Julius as it’s a bit chunky and I haven’t read anything longer in Spanish for a while. I hope I will make it.

  11. This is tempting…very tempting. I don’t know if I can join though since I will be so busy during July…but it is tempting.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on what you read.

  12. many thanks for the mention Caroline I ve been away from blogging for a week or two and not had chance to comment ,I have many favourites but this year favourite latin american would be i the supreme by roa bastos and spanish novel dublinesque by Vila matas ,looking forward to reading your reviews in july ,all the best stu

  13. Wow, that’s a lot of ideas 😉 I’ve read a few Spanish-language books recently, courtesy of And Other Stories, but I’m planning to read the Peirene book ‘Stone in a Landslide’ for the event…

    …and possibly one other 😉

    • Hmmm… I thought that Stone in a Landslide had been written in Catalan. I ruled out all my Catalan writers …But maybe that was being pedantic. Now you are giving me ideas. In any case, I think Stone in a Landslide should be quite good.
      My most probable choice A World for Julius is quite chunky… If I read that and the Onetti there will not much more.
      I’m curious to see what else you will choose.

    • That would of course be great. I don’t think many are going to read it this month. I’ve had a Sapnish copy since years… I might read some plays. Tom made a suggestion and I already downloaded it.

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