My review of the Anatomy of a Moment by Javier Cercas is up at the Quarterly Conversation. I like this review quite a bit and I think I did justice to the book. It seems like I spent a lifetime with it, reading it both in Spanish and in English then reading all the articles about the period over the last few weeks. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting.
At 6PM on February 23rd, 1981, Lieutenant Coronel Tejero, accompanied by armed soldiers, entered Spain’s legislative assembly to overthrow the young democratic government. He failed. Instead, King Juan Carlos and President Aldolfo Suárez became heroes by defeating the coup and opening the path for Spain to become the modern democracy it is today. Or so goes the legend. For the Spanish writer Javier Cercas, who lived through the events of that night, it is dismaying to see them pass into legend, turning a complicated night full of intrigue and ambiguity into a triumphalist moment of Spanish history whose only legacy seems to be the annual televising of Tejero’s entrance into the Congress of Deputies. The 30 seconds of televised memory isn’t enough, what is needed is a thorough investigation, and Cercas’s answer is the genre-bending novel, The Anatomy of a Moment, which examines every facet of the night in detail—sometimes excruciating detail. The novelistic approach lets him question one of modern Spain’s founding myths, but also invites controversy; Anatomy was a sensation is Spain when it was published in 2009. Now English-language readers have a chance to see why.
You can read all my other posts about Javier Cercas here.