Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts

Monday, July 27, 2015

Free Mp3 Download: Concha Buika's Latest "Vivir sin miedo"

Here's your chance to listen to a little Concha Buika,a Spanish singer who goes by the stage name Buika, you may not be familiar with but should be.

Her music will haunt you.

Her album Niña de Fuego was nominated for the 2008 Latin Grammy Award for Album of the Year and La Noche Mas Larga was nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014.

Through Thursday, July 30, 2015, you can download and preview a single off her upcoming album here: Buika

Friday, November 07, 2014

#FridayReads: The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas

English: San Francisco harbor (Yerba Buena Cov...
 San Francisco harbor (Yerba Buena Cove), 1850 or 1851, with Yerba Buena Island in the background. Daguerrotype. . (Photo: Wikipedia)
Declared “a writer to watch” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), New York Times bestselling author María Dueñas pours heart and soul into this story of a woman who discovers the power of second chances.

With her debut novel The Time in Between, María Dueñas garnered outstanding acclaim and inspired a TV series, dubbed the “Spanish Downton Abbey” by the media. 

USA TODAY said of the book: “From a terrific opening line to the final page, chapters zip by at a pulsing pace.” Now Dueñas returns with a novel about a heartbroken woman’s attempt to pick up the pieces of her shattered world.

Blanca Perea is a college professor in Madrid who seems to have it all. But her perfect career and marriage start to unravel when her husband of twenty years suddenly leaves her for another woman. Devastated, Blanca is forced to question the life she once had and how well she truly knows herself. 

She leaves Madrid for San Francisco, where she becomes entrenched in the history of an enigmatic Spanish writer who died decades earlier. The more Blanca discovers about this man, the more she is enthralled by the ill-fated loves, half truths, and silent ambitions that haunted his life.

With lush, imaginative prose and unforgettable characters, The Heart Has Its Reasons is a journey of the soul that takes readers from Spain to California, between the thorny past and all-too-real present. It is a story about the thrill of creating one’s life anew.

Friday, October 10, 2014

#FridayReads: Voyage of Strangers by Elizabeth Zelvin

Taino symbol of a sun
Taino symbol of a sun (Photo: Wikipedia)
The year is 1493, and young Jewish sailor Diego Mendoza has returned from Columbus’s triumphant first voyage with tales of lush landscapes, rivers running with gold, and welcoming locals. But back home in Spain, Diego finds the Inquisition at its terrifying peak, and he must protect his spirited sister, Rachel, from betrayal and death.

Disguising herself as a boy, Rachel sneaks onto Columbus’s second expedition, bound for the new lands they call the Indies. As the Spaniards build their first settlements and search for gold, Diego and Rachel fall in love with the place, people, and customs. Still forced to hide their religious faith and Rachel’s true identity, the brother and sister witness the Spaniards’ devastation of the island in their haste to harvest riches.

This unflinching look at Columbus’s exploration and its terrible cost to the native Taino people introduces two valiant young people who struggle against the inevitable destruction of paradise.

Elizabeth Zelvin is a New York City psychotherapist and author of a mystery series featuring recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler. Liz is a three-time Agatha Award nominee and a Derringer Award nominee for Best Short Story. 

She is currently working on the sequel to Voyage of Strangers. Liz is also an award-winning poet with two books of poetry and a singer-songwriter whose album of original songs is titled Outrageous Older Woman. After many years in private practice and directing alcohol treatment programs, she now sees clients from all over the world online. Her author website is at 

Visit for Liz’s music and for online therapy. Liz is a veteran blogger, posting weekly for seven years on Poe’s Deadly Daughters and, most recently, on SleuthSayers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Free Access to Research on Five Historic Hispanic Authors This Month

In honor of Hispanic heritage monthQuestia, an online research and paper-writing tool for students, is paying homage to Hispanic authors who have made significant contributions to literature throughout history.  For the entire month, enjoy free access to reference works on five of history’s most researched Hispanic authors:

  • Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra:  Spanish-born Cervantes is widely regarded as an influential playwright, novelist and poet in history, penning infamous works such as Don Quixote during his lifetime.  As a student under the direction of Juan Lopez de Hoyos, Cervantes published his first works, a collection of four poems.  For a portion of his life, Cervantes lived a military-lifestyle, eventually being held prisoner in Algiers for many years.  Upon his release from captivity, Cervantes solidified his reputation as an author and authored many more novels.  [Mancing, Howard.  The Cervantes Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 A-K.  Greenwood Press: 2004]
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  Marquez is among the most recognized Spanish American authors of the 20th Century and is primarily associated with his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.  At the age of 12, the Colombian-born Marquez obtained a scholarship to study at Colegio Nacional, a national secondary school, and eventually went on to study law.  While working as a journalist for a newspaper, Marquez began to publish his first works, many of which were short stories.  As his works gained notoriety throughout his life, Marquez found fame and came to make many famous and powerful friends.  [Pelayo, Ruben.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Critical Companion.  Greenwood Press: 2001]
Federico García Lorca
 Federico García Lorca
  • Federico Garcia Lorca:  Internationally recognized as a poet and playwright, Lorca’s tumultuous personal life and anguish was visible in many of his works.  Born in Spain, Lorca collaborated with many artists throughout Spain on various plays.  However, strained relationships with friends such as Salvador Dali led Lorca to make his way over to theUnited States where he enrolled at Colombia University and authored the poem Poet in New York.  Lorca eventually returned to Spain and was murdered in the Spanish Civil War. [Nandorfy, Martha J.  The Poetics of Apocalypse:  Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poet in New York.  Bucknell University Press: 2003]
  • Pablo Neruda:  Born as Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto in Chile, he often used the pen name Pablo Neruda for his politically-charged prose and poems and eventually took the alias as his legal name.  Throughout his life, Neruda became an internationally recognized figure for his involvement in politics, however in his youth he authored many poems such as the erotically-fueled Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.  [Belitt, Ben.  The Forged Feature: Towards a Poetics of Uncertainty: New and Selected Essays.  Fordham University Press: 1995]
  • Jorge Luis Borges:  An Argentinean poet and short-story writer, Borges was a master of the written word with his writing first beginning in Europe where he received a baccalaureat from the College de Geneve in Switzerland.  In hisAutobiographical Essay Borges reminisces about how his involvement in literary tertulia while living in Madrid and how participating in conversations about different essays became a pivotal point within his writing career.  Borges is most remembered for his poetry and fictional essays that contained fantasy and magical realism themes.  [De Quevedo, Francisco.  Six Masters of the Spanish Sonnet: Essays and Translations.  Southern Illinois University Press: 1997]

Monday, August 06, 2012

New Book: The Sadness of the Samurai By Victor del Arbol

I've been meaning to write about The Sadness of the Samurai: A Novel By Victor del Arbol since its English debut at the end of May and just haven't had a chance to feature it.

This fierce, edgy, brisk, and enthralling, brilliant novel by Victor del Árbol pushes the boundaries of the traditional historical novel and in doing so creates a work of incredible power that resonates long after the last page has been turned.

When Isabel, a Spanish aristocrat living in the pro-Nazi Spain of 1941, becomes involved in a plot to kill her Fascist husband, she finds herself betrayed by her mysterious lover. The effects of her betrayal play out in a violent struggle for power in both family and government over three generations, intertwining her story with that of a young lawyer named Maria forty years later. 

During the attempted Fascist coup of 1981, Maria is accused of plotting the prison escape of a man she successfully prosecuted for murder. As Maria's and Isabel's narratives unfold they encircle each other, creating a page-turning literary thriller firmly rooted in history.

Victor del Árbol holds a degree in history from the University of Barcelona. He has worked for Catalonia's police force since 1992. In 2006, he won the Tiflos de Novela Award for The Weight of the Dead. The Sadness of the Samurai is his first novel to be translated into English. You can follow him on Twitter @victordelarbol.

"La “tristeza del samurái” es la que todos sentimos alguna vez en la vida, cuando descubrimos, o nos hacen descubrir que aquello que siempre quisimos ser, que lo mejor de nosotros, es solo un personaje que nos hemos ido creando y creyendo a lo largo de la vida y que se ha acabado comiendo a quien realmente somos. Todos quisieran ser mejores de lo que son, todos desearíamos ser aquello que los demás esperan de nosostros: un buen padre, un buen hijo, un buen amante, un buen amigo, una buena abogada, una buena aristócrata… Pero no siempre lo conseguimos, a veces no lo logramos nunca." via Revistadeletras

You can read an excerpt here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Book: Tales of Seduction: The Figure of Don Juan in Spanish Culture

If you're the kind of person that enjoys your literary criticism through a lens of machismo, don't worry, I've got you covered. Tales of Seduction : The Figure of Don Juan in Spanish Culture, might be just up your alley.

Don Juan is one of the intriguing creations of Western literature. A legendary seducer of women, trickster, and transgressor of sacred boundaries, he has been the object of countless revisions over the centuries. 

The twentieth-century has viewed the figure afresh through the prism of its own cultural terms of reference and social concerns. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Tales of Seduction focuses on the intersections between myth, culture, and intellectual inquiry. 

Sarah Wright takes Don Juan back to Spain, his birth-place, and examines the confluences of Spanish culture with aspects of Western intellectual history (medicine, psychoanalysis, linguistics), where she finds Don Juan continues to transgress the limits of culture from the early twentieth century to the present.

Sarah Wright completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge and is currently Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Book: The Sadness of the Samurai: A Novel

Out this week: The Sadness of the Samurai: A Novel by Victor del Arbol
A betrayal and a murder in pro-Nazi Spain spark a struggle for power that grips a family for generations in this sweeping historical thriller

Fierce, edgy, brisk, and enthralling, this brilliant novel by Victor del Árbol pushes the boundaries of the traditional historical novel and in doing so creates a work of incredible power that resonates long after the last page has been turned.

When Isabel, a Spanish aristocrat living in the pro-Nazi Spain of 1941, becomes involved in a plot to kill her Fascist husband, she finds herself betrayed by her mysterious lover. The effects of her betrayal play out in a violent struggle for power in both family and government over three generations, intertwining her story with that of a young lawyer named Maria forty years later.

During the attempted Fascist coup of 1981, Maria is accused of plotting the prison escape of a man she successfully prosecuted for murder. As Maria's and Isabel's narratives unfold they encircle each other, creating a page-turning literary thriller firmly rooted in history.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Book: Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile

I just started reading the eBook version of Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox and wanted to put it on your radar.

I've always been fascinated by both Queen's tragic lives and I'm glad someone finally wrote about Juana La Loca.

Via Goodreads:
The history books have cast Katherine of Aragon, the first queen of King Henry VIII of England, as the ultimate symbol of the Betrayed Woman, cruelly tossed aside in favor of her husband’s seductive mistress, Anne Boleyn. Katherine’s sister, Juana of Castile, wife of Philip of Burgundy and mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, is portrayed as “Juana the Mad,” whose erratic behavior included keeping her beloved late husband’s coffin beside her for years. But historian Julia Fox, whose previous work painted an unprecedented portrait of Jane Boleyn, Anne’s sister, offers deeper insight in this first dual biography of Katherine and Juana, the daughters of Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella, whose family ties remained strong despite their separation. Looking through the lens of their Spanish origins, Fox reveals these queens as flesh-and-blood women—equipped with character, intelligence, and conviction—who are worthy historical figures in their own right. 

When they were young, Juana’s and Katherine’s futures appeared promising. They had secured politically advantageous marriages, but their dreams of love and power quickly dissolved, and the unions for which they’d spent their whole lives preparing were fraught with duplicity and betrayal. Juana, the elder sister, unexpectedly became Spain’s sovereign, but her authority was continually usurped, first by her husband and later by her son. Katherine, a young widow after the death of Prince Arthur of Wales, soon remarried his doting brother Henry and later became a key figure in a drama that altered England’s religious landscape. 

Ousted from the positions of power and influence they had been groomed for and separated from their children, Katherine and Juana each turned to their rich and abiding faith and deep personal belief in their family’s dynastic legacy to cope with their enduring hardships. Sister Queens is a gripping tale of love, duty, and sacrifice—a remarkable reflection on the conflict between ambition and loyalty during an age when the greatest sin, it seems, was to have been born a woman.

 Julia Fox was interviewed by NPR, the audio is available on their website.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nada: Sounds Interesting

Book News: Nada: A Novel (Modern Library)

* By Jonathan Yardley Via Washinton Post

NADA, A Novel
By Carmen Laforet
Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman

This remarkable novel has a long history in Europe, Spain most particularly, but a very limited one here in the United States. A British translation from the Spanish was done almost half a century ago, and a little-known academic publisher issued one a decade and a half ago, but copies of both are limited and fairly hard to come by. So this new translation by the redoubtable Edith Grossman is especially welcome, as it makes available to readers here a coming-of-age novel that is far more mature and stylistically accomplished than the most famous American example of the genre, J.D. Salinger's vastly overrated The Catcher in the Rye.

Carmen Laforet was in her early 20s when she wrote Nada and 23 when it was published in her native Spain and became the first recipient of that country's celebrated Nadal Prize. Its frank, unsparing depiction of Barcelona in the aftermath of Spain's destructive 1936-39 Civil War caused a sensation, and its spare literary style -- impeccably rendered by Grossman -- had considerable influence on subsequent Spanish and European literature. "It has never been out of print," the Guardian reported when Laforet died three years ago, "and, even today, sells several thousand copies a year."

Like virtually all coming-of-age fiction, Nada is heavily though not literally autobiographical. Laforet was born in Barcelona in 1921. Her mother died when she was 12, and her father eventually married a woman with whom she did not get along. At 18, she left the Canary Islands (where her family had moved when she was 2) and attended university in Barcelona, living with relatives. On the evidence of Nada, this cannot have been a happy experience, as the household depicted therein is a nightmare of rivalry, hatred, sexual innuendo and violence -- a microcosmic mirror of Spain itself at one of the most tormented moments in its history.

Eighteen-year-old Andrea comes to Barcelona from the countryside full of hope: for "life in its plenitude, joy, deep interests, love."

Though there are suggestions at the novel's end that in time all of these will be granted to her, they hardly are what she finds in the apartment on Calle de Aribau. Its inhabitants are her maternal grandmother, two uncles, two aunts, an infant nephew, a maid, a dog and a cat. The heat is "suffocating, as if the air were stagnant and rotting." She feels "horribly dirty" and rushes to take a cold shower in a bathroom that vividly establishes the ambiance of the apartment:

"That bathroom seemed like a witches' house. The stained walls had traces of hook-shaped hands, of screams of despair. Everywhere the scaling walls opened their toothless mouths, oozing dampness. Over the mirror, because it didn't fit anywhere else, they'd hung a macabre still life of pale bream and onions against a black background. Madness smiled from the bent faucets."

Looking out the window, she sees three stars "trembling in the soft blackness overhead." Their twinkling "brought back in a rush all my hopes regarding Barcelona until the moment I'd entered this atmosphere of perverse people and furniture. I was afraid to get into the bed that resembled a coffin. I think I was trembling with indefinable terrors when I put out the candle." She has little self-confidence -- "I felt vaguely inferior, a little insipid" -- and experience has rendered her fatalistic: "I thought that any joy in my life had to be paid for with something unpleasant." She is "bitter and intransigent, like youth itself." In other words, she is in poor shape to weather the tensions and animosities of her mother's family's house.

Her grandmother, "granny," is sweet and self-sacrificial but ineffectual and dotty. Aunt Angustias "not only saw herself as strong and capable of leading multitudes, but also as sweet, unfortunate, and persecuted," when in fact she is controlling, authoritarian and arbitrary. Uncle Juan repeatedly beats his pretty young wife, Aunt Gloria, who does what she can to bring money into the cash-strapped household. As for Uncle Román, he is a piece of work, "more original and artistic than most," a gifted musician, but manipulative, disloyal, lazy, irrational and sexually predatory. Andrea is drawn to him, as many women are, but she fears and distrusts him.

Such pleasure as she finds is given to her at the university, where she becomes intimate friends with a classmate named Ena, wealthy and beautiful and magnetic, and falls in with a group of amiable bohemians. She tries desperately not to "mix those two worlds that were beginning to stand out so clearly in my life: my student friendships, with their easy cordiality, and my dirty, unwelcoming house." She is alternately depressed and exhilarated by Barcelona, which in those post-Civil War days was rarely the sun-drenched Mediterranean paradise that it is today. "In the heat of summer, [it] has a beauty that's oppressive and a little sad," but there is also a pervasive sensuousness that awakens passions hidden inside her:

"I remember the first autumn nights and how they intensified my first moments of disquiet in the house. And the winter nights, with their damp melancholy: the creak of a chair interrupting my sleep and the shudder of my nerves when I discovered two small shining eyes -- the cat's eyes -- fixed on mine. In those icy hours there were certain moments when life broke with all sense of modesty before my eyes and appeared naked, shouting sad intimacies, which for me were only horrifying. Intimacies that the morning took care to erase, as if they'd never even existed. . . . Later came the summer nights. Sweet, dense Mediterranean nights over Barcelona, with golden juice flowing from the moon, with the damp odor of sea nymphs combing their watery hair over white shoulders, over the scales of golden tails. . . .

On one of those hot nights, hunger, sadness, and the power of my youth brought me to a swoon of feeling, a physical need for tenderness as avid and dusty as scorched earth with a presentiment of the storm."

Andrea is a teenager in the throes of sexual awakening, which in her case is complicated by the sexual tensions everywhere around her: between Juan and Gloria, between boys and girls she meets on campus, between Román and just about everyone who crosses his path. In recent years, it has become fashionable in some academic quarters to detect lesbian as well as heterosexual awakening in Andrea, but this has far more to do with scholarly trendiness than with what actually happens to Andrea. Her confusion is not about her own sexual preference but about how to find love, tenderness and reciprocated passion in a house and a society that are, as Mario Vargas Llosa puts it in his brief but pointed introduction to this new edition, "brutalized by lack of freedom, censorship, prejudices, hypocrisy, and isolation."

Nada-- again to quote Vargas Llosa, "the unsurpassable title says everything about the novel and the city where it takes place" -- is a grim book, but it is far from humorless, and it declines to pass simplistic judgment on any of its characters. Though at first Andrea is horrified by the people she finds in her grandmother's apartment -- and by the apartment itself -- she comes to understand their frailties and occasional redeeming aspects as they reveal themselves to her more completely. In the end, she certainly is glad to be rid of them, though her farewells are not without fondness, but she seems to understand that she has been through a shaping experience that may ultimately be better for her than she now can appreciate.

That this complex, mature and wise novel was written by someone in her early 20s is extraordinary. The success it enjoyed seems to have weighed rather heavily on Laforet, whose subsequent five novels generally are regarded as less accomplished. But after six decades, this first novel has lost none of its power and originality, and we are fortunate to have it in this fine translation. ·
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