by Javier Marías

The example is simple and, in the end, somewhat insignificant: for its final issue of the year 2004, the literary supplement of the Spanish newspaper El País decided to present a roundup of the year’s best fiction. Out of deference, El País culled its group of judges—that is, those who would vote on or select the winners—from a number of newspapers in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. As such, I was startled to find that in the three categories for Spanish-language literature (narrative, poetry, essay), not a single Spanish writer had been featured. With a parsimony that bordered on tackiness, the editors of these publications appeared to find noteworthy literature only in their own Latin American countries, written by Latin American authors. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Any Spaniard who has ever traveled to Latin America knows that sooner or later they will come across someone who glowers at them and, quite often, casually tosses out some kind of reproachful comment such as, “Well, after all, you people, the Spanish, you only came here to sack, pillage, and kill.” Or something of that ilk. As many people, including the Spanish writer and philosopher Fernando Savater, have noted, those who indulge in such accusations often have last names like González, Ruiz, or Chávez, if not Bianco or Zanetta—people whose forebears came to the New World long after the Spanish did.

Translated from the Spanish by Kristina Cordero

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. English-language translations of his novels include All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, and the short story collection When I Was Mortal.

News on Facebook Photos on Instagram Stuff on Pinterest Announcements by RSS Sounds on Soundcloud Exclusives on Tumblr Updates on Twitter

Subscribe to our mailing list