cover image All That Followed

All That Followed

Gabriel Urza. Holt, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-1-62779-243-1

Set in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Urza’s debut novel is as subtle and enveloping as the txirimiri, a Basque word for “rain so fine that an umbrella is useless against it.” The village of Muriga, a Basque stronghold dominated by a “looming fortress” that was once the site of a massacre during the Spanish Civil War, is picturesque and sinister in equal measure. It is a town proud of its antifascist past but bedeviled by a strain of separatist extremism that leads several teenagers to murder a local politician. The novel is narrated by three townspeople, each providing a first-person account that cautiously circles the political crime in increasingly tight orbits: Joni, a transplanted American teacher of English, who, despite having lived in Muriga for half a century, is still considered a stranger; Mariana, the widow of the slain politician who is convinced that the ghost of her kidney donor, a young terrorist killed by the police, is haunting her; and Iker, a student of Joni’s and one of the perpetrators of the attack. Deceptions and past tragedies come to light, but most remarkable is how Urza thematically handles the violence lurking in an insular community. Be it a Basque town with its own language and history, a transplanted organ, or a nonnative inhabitant, everything in this tense novel revolves around the notion of an ineradicable foreignness that inexorably leads to bad blood. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Aug.)