I haven’t quite determined the level at which literary figures can, or should, influence a culture, especially outside of the scope of their written work. But regardless of my dilemma, I always find it more interesting to uncover the patterns, tendencies, and trends of a society’s condition, as well as the revelations of the individual, through the eyes of a creative writer. At first glance, it seems that in Spain, this voice of the local writer is relatively minimal. I hope I am wrong. I acknowledge that I am fundamentally limited in scope by my lack of native language, but I am fairly certain that even with my limited linguistic tools, I can still perceive the difference between a work of sheer popularity, grown like a virus on culture, and that of profound quality. And I think have already found a few of the latter. Even through the thick screen of English translation, I can often see something true and humanly valuable from a short story or poem that is written in another language.
In my opinion, a writer must read. So, I go forward, swimming through a mix of English-Spanish translation and deliberate, slow reading of Spanish, searching for voices that help me understand the world. I always yearn for awareness, both provincial and holistic, otherwise I slip into a depressed state of detachment. And as I move forward, with all the mixed emotions that come with a dichotomous life full of isolation and necessary human connection, and especially as I attempt to develop own fundamental understanding, and questions, of the existence (or definition) of love, I often look to the printed word for help.
Here is a short list of relatively new writers from Spain who have inadvertently given me a benchmark for my own writing, and who have shed slivers of light on some of the things going on around me. Click on their names to find relevant blogs and content.
* * *
Elvira Navarro She is my favorite of this group, having the ability to string together words on a situation that reveal themselves in a satisfying and different way with every read. Check out this excerpt from one of her works:
“The pair are penned together in the kind of liminal place they used to like: a grim hostel with a subterranean keeper: it’s slightly sordid, slightly dangerous, slightly challenging – a combination which might once have sparked intimacies, levels of pressured awareness, new forms of touch. Now Gerardo and the nameless woman are simply alone in company, a reminder of the woman’s loneliness and a projection of its future extent.”
Alberto Olmos Freely changing tenses without slowing down or cluttering the story, I like Mr. Olmos’ style and his cutting descriptions of small happenings that may or may not carry deeper meaning. Check out his story “Eva and Diego.”
Andrés Barba Author of “The Coming Flood.” A bit out of my reach, my first impression of Barba reminds me of the strangeness and wonder of Julio Cortázar or Borges. I want to read more.