Best Books of the Year Round up: Spanish Language Press

Here is my not comprehensive list of best books of the year compiled by the various Spanish language presses of note.

Revista Ñ breaks their lists into 5 sections: Argentine narratives, foreign narratives, essays, poetry, and various. Below are the Argentine novels. The Juan José Saer is an unfinished collection of drafts and pieces. It is on the list, but I’m doubtful. If they hadn’t made mention of Steven King in the write up, Luciano Lamberti’s stories sound interesting. Leopoldo Brizuela’s novel won the Alfaguara this year and sounds interesting too.

  • El viento que arrasa de Selva Almada (Mardulce)
  • Papeles de trabajo de Juan José Saer (Seix Barral)
  • Una misma noche de Leopoldo Brizuela (Alfaguara)
  • El amor nos destrozará de Diego Erlan (Tusquets)
  • Borgestein de Sergio Bizzio (Mondadori)
  • El loro que podía adivinar el futuro de Luciano Lamberti (Nudista)
  • Canción de la desconfianza de Damian Selci (Eterna Cadencia)

From El Páis comes several lists, including best translated book (there’s no shame in that over there and always worth a look to see what they think is important in foreign literature). The El Páis edition also includes a Saer book, but this one looks more promising, his complete short stories: Juan José Saer Cuentos completos (El Aleph). I’m not familiar with Luis Landero, their number one, but the others on the list are old standbys and I’m a little dubious if they are really the best of the year. I have read some good reviews of the Cercas book though.

From ABC in Spain we have a list that doesn’t really catch my eye. It is very heavy on fascism, nazis and war. I’m not sure where their head has been this year. I will say they have picked from a wide range of publishers. I think most are small press. (nod to Moleskine) Bonus coverage of the critics talking about why they chose certain books.

  • Contra toda esperanza, Nadiezhda Mandelstam (Acantilado).
  • Malaparte. Vidas y leyendas, Maurizio Serra (Tusquets).
  • Continente salvaje, Keith Lowe (Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores).
  • Guardianas nazis. El lado femenino del mal, Mónica González Álvarez (EDAF).
  • Noches azules, Joan Didion (Mondadori).
  • Algún día este dolor te será útil, Peter Cameron (Libros del Asteroide).
  • El diablo a todas horas, Donald Ray Pollock (Libros del Silencio).
  • La cápsula del tiempo, Miqui Otero (Blackie Books).
  • ¿Por qué nos gustan las guapas?, Todo Rafael Azcona en La Codorniz (Pepitas de calabaza y Fulgencio Pimentel).
  • Me hallará la muerte, Juan Manuel de Prada (Destino).

From La Vanguardia in Barcelona we have the bonus list of the best in Catalan. But since I only speak Spanish I’ll leave that to you to investigate. There are some of the usual names here (Marias, Cercas, Vila-Matas). The Lusi Landero from El Páis’s list made it to the list. Andres Neuman was listed, too. I’m looking forward to the book. I already have my copy and will be reading it in the near future.  Juan Villoro’s new novel made it on to the list. I’ve been on the fence with the reviews I’ve heard of it. He always strikes me as more of a non fiction writer. Perhaps if I read the book I might change my mind.

Título: El país imaginado
Autor: Eduardo Berti (Buenos Aires, 1964)
Editorial: Impedimenta

Título: Aire de Dylan
Autor: Enrique Vila-Matas (Barcelona, 1948)
Editorial: Seix Barral

Título: Perros que ladran en el sótano
Autor: Olga Merino (Barcelona, 1965)
Editorial: Alfaguara

Título: Mala índole
Autor: Javier Marías (Madrid, 1951)
Editorial: Alfaguara

Título: Lo que cuenta es la ilusión
Autor: Ignacio Vidal-Folch (Barcelona, 1956)
Editorial: Destino

Título: Absolución
Autor: Luis Landero (Alburquerque, 1948)
Editorial: Tusquets

Título: Las leyes de la frontera
Autor: Javier Cercas (Ibahernando, 1962)
Editorial: Mondadori

Título: Arrecife
Autor: Juan Villoro (México, 1956)
Editorial: Anagrama

Título: Victus
Autor: Albert Sánchez Piñol (Barcelona, 1965)
Editorial: La Campana

Título: Hablar solos
Autor: Andrés Neuman
Editorial: Alfaguara

El Cultural from Spain has an interesting list. I found their list last year one of the more interesting ones (and 100% Spanish, I believe; no Latin Americans). Their top pick is the Spanish writer José María Merino’s realistic novel. He’s generally thought of a writer of the fantastic and a short story writer, though not exclusively. I just finished one of his books and a review will becoming shortly, but his work is interesting and wide ranging. His interviews are worth a read, too.

  • El río del Eden, José María Merino (Alfaguara)
  • Absolución, Luis Landero (Tusquets)
  • Años lentos, Fernando Aramburú (Tusquets)
  • El Tango de la Guardia Vieja, Arturo Pérez Reverte (Alfaguara)
  • Las Leyes de la Frontera, Javier Cercas (Tusquets)
  • La hija del Este, Clara Usón (Seix Barral)
  • Las voces del Pamano, Jaumé Cabré (Destino)
  • La cabeza en llamas, Luis Mateo Diez (Galaxia Gutemberg)
  • Medusa, R. Menéndez Salmón (Seix Barral)
  • Ayer no más, Andrés Trapiello (Destino)

Their write up of Landero’s book is quite succinct:

Con pericia de narrador en plena madurez, Landero (Alburquerque, Badajoz, 1948) relata en Absolución las aventuras de Lino, un treintañero conflictivo, tierno y desvalido, de muchos oficios y poco asiento. Con él se cruzan personajes casi tan raros como él, excéntricos y quijotescos, a los que Landero retrata con una mirada cordial, piadosa y distante hasta construir , en palabras de Santos Sanz Villanueva, “una excelente novela, divertida y triste, cálida, repleta de seres entrañables, que además se atreve a plantear, con lucidez y humor, con más melancolía que tragedia aparente, el irresoluble arcano de nuestra misteriosa existencia y enigmático destino”.

The Columbian Magazine Semana has this list (nod to Moleskine). Two items of note: a book of creative writing from indigenous authors; and a book from James Thurber (What?).

1. Memoria por correspondencia, de Emma Reyes.
2. Crímenes, de Ferdinand von Schirach.
3. Abandonarse a la pasión, de Hiromi Kawakami.
4. Lenguaje creativo de las etnias indígenas de Colombia, de varios autores.
5. Elegía, de Mary Jo Bang.
6. Érase una vez en Colombia, de Ricardo Silva Romero.
7. El desafío de la memoria, de Joshua Foer.
8. Doce relojes, de James Thurber.
9. El incendio de abril, de Miguel Torres.
10. Los hermanos Cuervo, de Andrés Felipe Solano.

Finally, El ADN Cultura from “La Nación” has a list you can read here. It is long and has a lot of translations on it–including Steven King, so just by that it is a dubious list. Perhaps, translation makes him better.