October 23, 2020

‘Un amor’, cloudy reinterpretation of the story of the small town that becomes a big hell


Nat works as a translator and has just arrived in La Escapa, a small rural nucleus away from everything where she tries to rebuild her life. You have rented an old house that seems to be falling apart, and its rehabilitation requires all your effort.

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‘Cara de pan’, the disturbing story of a teenager and a fifty-year-old called to be the book of the year

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Your landlord is not going to help you. Consider that she rented the house knowing its condition and that it is her responsibility to fix even the smallest detail. But, out of deference, he gives him a surly and fearful dog that Nat begins to call Sieso. Together, the young woman and the hound will have to adapt to their new life.

Sara Mesa returns to bookstores with One Love (Anagram): a strange novel and, in its way, fascinating for its ability to catch the reader without any mystery. Also for his captivating ability to capture a violence that is (almost) never physical, but that subjects his characters to situations that are recognizable to all in their crushing daily life.

A dog and a woman in a village

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“It is impossible to say exactly where the idea of ​​a book comes from, it is rather a mixture of ideas, images, themes that have haunted me for a long time and that I have already dealt with, from other angles, in other books”, explains Sara Mesa in an interview with elDiario.es. “The protagonist gathers characteristics of other female characters of mine: a tendency to submission and obedience along with a strong inner nonconformity and a rebellion that is not well channeled.”

Two years after Bread face, the writer returns with an equally indefinable novel and deft in her ability to avoid easy synopses and lazy genre fits. An indefiniteness that cultivates since Four by four, finalist for the Herralde Novel Prize in 2012, and that can be perfectly traced in novels such as Scar or story books like Bad handwriting. All published by Anagrama.

One Love, in addition, it builds an interesting bridge with the work Wrong planet, in which Mesa recounted the story of a woman who writes a diary about her days in Vado, a city threatened by depopulation and neglect. A woman who one fine day found an abandoned dog.

“I had not thought about relationships with Wrong planet, a long story that I wrote many years ago, but of course the abandoned dog is a constant: it comes out in An invisible fire, in Scar… “, Explains the writer.” The dog is central in the book, it appears from the first pages and its role is relevant until the end. Not only does it represent a frustrated project (one more of Nat’s), but it also receives the weight of prejudice, a previous conviction … And this is also a subject that interests me a lot: lynching. ”

The weight of the community on the individual

About Nat, as about Sieso, all kinds of prejudices are soon woven between whispers. La Escapa is not hostile to the young translator, but neither does she welcome her with open arms. In their own way, they distrust her for being a woman and apparently free.

However, Mesa insists that he has not resorted to narrating the rural as a mere appendix or decoration for his story. “It should be specified that at no time do I say that the story takes place in Spain, I am not looking for that concreteness of the landscape because what interested me in this book was to make a portrait of the abusive weight of the community on the individual, and this is applicable to a thousand situations and places at least “.

According to the writer, “what happens is that inevitably my gaze is impregnated with the landscapes that I know, those in which I have grown up, live or visit normally and here, obviously, the south is filtered. But, really, I have not intended to make a story of the rural world, it would be a daring on my part since I do not know it in depth “.

In Sara Mesa’s novels, fear seeps into the emotions like a virus. The lack of communication, the difficulties in expressing feelings whose owner sometimes suffers more than understands them, backbone an important part of his imagination.

Sonia’s relationship with Knut in Scar, that of Old Man with Face of bread in the homonymous novel and now that of Nat with a neighbor whom everyone knows as ‘the German’, and who is not even from the German country.

“I think that it is something of a more abstract nature or, if you want, existential: the relationships between very different people and how language rather than unite, sometimes, separates”, describes the novelist. “The German ‘, who is not even German, lacks irony: what is said is what it is, it is limited to the literal reading of the facts, it does not interpret, it avoids complex readings. Nat, for his part, represents fair the opposite: if she aspires to be a translator it is because she knows that the texts point to lots of different directions, of interpretations, they are nothing in themselves “.

Possible interpretations for One Love, This latest novel by Sara Mesa also points in multiple directions. But all the signs that lead us to a clear conclusion are difficult to decipher. His prose is expressed with the concern with which doubts are raised, not with the calmness of solving them. And so, One Love it works out like a fascinating novel.

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