Excerpt Of The Century Behind Me: A Family Saga by Eloy Urroz at Ezra Fitz dot com

Ezra Fitz, the translator of Alberto Fuguet, has an excerpt of The Century Behind Me: A Family Saga by Eloy Urroz which he has translated and is looking to publish. As with his excerpt from Missing, it is a generous excerpt and worth a look.

The protagonist is a woman by the name of Silvana Forns Nakash, and the novel traces the history of her family, told in her own voice. She is a Mexican American, born in the US to a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, torn between countries, cultures, and languages.  In coming to terms with her own identity, she paints a Diego Riveraesque mural of the century preceding her birth, one whose scenes include a Syria decimated by cholera, revolutionary Mexico under Cardenas, an Edenic kibbutz in Israel, and a the free-wheeling 60s and 70s right here in America.

In case that sounds at all intriguing, I’m posting an excerpt here from my own sample translation.  Please read, and enjoy.

In October of 1918, General Allenby’s cavalry had retaken Damascus and captured some 75,000 Turks and Germans.  The outbreak of malaria—brought by mosquitoes from the Euphrates—came on the wings of the cholera epidemics that had twice (in 1823 and 1832) already decimated the population.  The so-called “Spanish Flu” also swept through Europe and the Middle East in those days, leaving as many dead as the entire Great War itself had.

Once Damascus fell, the final Ottoman redoubt was Aleppo and its surrounding areas, a city that once—and for three centuries—had remained under Ottoman control, until 1833 when it fell to the Egyptian forces led by Muhammad Ali.  The German general von Oppen, who had managed to keep his troops together, died of cholera, leaving a power vacuum that Allenby took advantage of with his attack on the last bastion of central European forces.  Nevertheless it would be none other than Commander Macandrew who would finally retake Aleppo for the Arabs and, of course, for the French (into whose hands it would pass in 1920).  That final campaign took place in Haritan, to the northeast of Aleppo, finally resulting in the armistice of October 31, 1918.  The war had ended, but not the consequences of pain and death that cholera, malaria, and violence had left in their wake.