Books

The journalist on Hill 481

Jimmy Jump’s beautifully written book portrays dozens of his comrades in the International Brigades and tells the terrible story of deaths and defeat. In addition, he tackles controversial questions with an honesty unusual in Civil War memoirs

Avant-garde romantic

This biography of the composer Leonardo Balada is a strange and rather moving book. Balada’s life – even his name – was shaped by the Franco dictatorship, but then he soared above it to find freedom in both life and art

Mad times

No doubt at all what this novel’s about! From start to end, three friends, the rather dull narrator, the cynical charmer Armengol and the medical student Giberga investigate the eccentric behaviour, then madness, then total mental collapse of their acquaintance Daniel Serrallonga

Downright peculiar

Salt Water is the translation of Pla’s Aigua de Mar, published in his Collected Works in 1966, plus 29 pages on an ill-tempered conversation about a shipwreck with Salvador Dalí’s father

Toni Garcia Ramon
CULTURAL JOURNALIST

“Bill Murray told me, ’No one will ever believe you’”

Not everyone can say that Harrison Ford stole their mobile phone. That Jean-Claude van Damme’s dog died while they were interviewing him on the phone. Or that Scarlett Johansson asked them if they preferred...

In full view of the tombs

English Hours is the irregular diary of the two years (1926 to 1928) that the historian Ferran Soldevila spent as a lecturer at Liverpool University

Zdgt and Bst

Open a Quim Monzó book and odds are you laugh out loud. He is sarcastic and outrageous. He examines with X-ray precision his characters, who spin in a maelstrom of emotions and instincts, disconnected and disoriented

SHAKESPEARE: sex and angels

Scholar Rosa Maria Martínez Ascaso presents the essay ’Sexpeare. Love and sex in Shakespeare’, in which she analyses the entire work of the bard

LOVE IN TIMES OF FASCISM

Isabel Allende’s latest novel deals with two tragedies 34 years apart: the defeat in the Spanish Civil War and the 1973 coup in Chile. The Catalans Víctor and Roser, her main characters, link both disasters.

Hanging around in train stations

There is a long tradition of English-language travellers fascinated by the back-roads of Spain who write a book of personal impressions, conversations with local people, history and literature. Brett Hetherington joins a list that includes George Borrow, Laurie Lee, Gerald Brenan, Rose Macaulay and Penelope Chetwode