Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Two Short Stories by Spanish Authors in Best European Fiction 2013

If you want a sense of what is going on in the short story in Europe you would be hard pressed to find a better source than the Best of European Fiction series published annually  since 2011. I recently posted on a very interesting story by a Spanish author from the forthcoming in October Best European Fiction 2015.  Today I want to talk briefly about the two stories by authors from Spain in Best European Fiction 2013 (all volumes published by Dalkey Archives).

"Pirpo and Chamberlain, Murderers" by Bernardo Atxaya starts in the Basque region of Spain around 1935.  Pirpo and Chamberlain were killers for hire, having, as they repeat numerous times, "carte Blanche" to do what ever they want in the largely lawless Pyrenees Mountain Region of Spain.  They also smuggle people out of Spain into France, or kind of do.  What they often did, collecting the money up front, was to walk people up into the mountains and the tell them they were in France even though they were not.  Big trouble for them comes when a maid tips of Pirpo, depicted as a great ladies' man while Chamberlain spends his earnings in brothels, that a rich couple wants to smuggle them into France and that they will be carrying a fortune in gems.  I won't spoil the ending.  The story was a lot of fun to read and I did feel transported back in time to Basque Spain in the 1930s.

Bernardo Atxaga 

Bernardo Atxaga (Joseba Irazu Garmendia, Asteasu, Guipúzcoa, 1951) belongs to the group of young Basque writers that began publishing in his mother language, Euskera, in the Seventies. Graduated in Economics for the Bilbao University, he later studied Philosophy at the University of Barcelona.  You can learn much more about him on his webpage.

"The Mercury of the Thermometers" by Eloy Tizon is an interesting story about a younger family members making a duty visit to an elderly widowed aunt who lives alone above a pharmacy.  She only goes out to shop and attend mass.  The story revolves around the differences concerning how the young people perceive their aunt's life to have been and what it really was.  The perceptions are interesting and the story is psychologically perceptive.


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