cover image War, So Much War

War, So Much War

Mercè Rodoreda, trans. from the Catalan by Maruxa Relano and Martha Tennent. Op

Often considered the most important Catalan novelist of the 20th century, Rodoreda (Death in Spring) explores life during the Spanish Civil War in a unique coming-of-age story. Feeling suffocated living at home with his parents in Barcelona, Adrià Guinart runs away with a friend to become a soldier. However, the pair is quickly separated, and an attack on the soldier camp leaves Adrià alone and wandering the woods. He eventually decides to leave the fighting and sets out on an aimless journey, roaming from village to village, stumbling into situations that challenge his perception of the world. During his trip, Adrià often loses himself in the stories of those he meets, and this prompts him to become more reflective and aware. The young protagonist confronts mortality and witnesses how “the rumblings of war” can reach even remote areas of a nation, and how those affected can become cruel. Adrià’s memories surface within his narration, complementing the novel’s quick and fluid structure. The war described in this book is mostly internal, and the large conflicts are more conceptual—young and old, life and death, present and past. Rodoreda’s dreamy, poetic prose is served well by Relaño and Tennent’s remarkable translation. A significant entry among the works in the Catalan language. (Nov.)