Death in Spring


by Mercè Rodoreda

September 15, 2015 (pb)
May 15, 2009 (hc, out of print)
novel | pb | 150 pgs

5.5" x 8.5"

"The greatest contemporary Catalan novelist and possibly the best Mediterranean woman author since Sappho." 
—David H. Rosenthal


Considered by many to be the grand achievement of her later period, Death in Spring is one of Mercè Rodoreda's most complex and beautifully constructed works. The novel tells the story of the bizarre and destructive customs of a nameless town—burying the dead in trees after filling their mouths with cement to prevent their soul from escaping, or sending a man to swim in the river that courses underneath the town to discover if they will be washed away by a flood—through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy who must come to terms with the rhyme and reason of this ritual violence, and with his wild, child-like, and teenaged stepmother, who becomes his playmate. It is through these rituals, and the developing relationships between the boy and the townspeople, that Rodoreda portrays a fully-articulated, though quite disturbing, society. 

The horrific rituals, however, stand in stark contrast to the novel’s stunningly poetic language and lush descriptions. Written over a period of twenty years—after Rodoreda was forced into exile following the Spanish Civi War—Death in Spring is musical and rhythmic, and truly the work of a writer at the height of her powers. 

Translated from the Catalan by Martha Tennent


About the Author: Mercè Rodoreda (1908–1983) is widely regarded as the most important Catalan writer of the twentieth century. Exiled in France and Switzerland following the Spanish Civil War, Rodoreda began writing the novels and short stories—Twenty-two Short StoriesThe Time of the DovesCamellia StreetGarden by the Sea—that would eventually make her internationally famous, while at the same time earning a living as a seamstress. In the mid-1960s she returned to Catalonia, where she continued to write. Death in Spring, her final novel, is also available from Open Letter.

About the Translator: Martha Tennent is an English-language translator who works primarily from Catalan and Spanish. She was born in the United States, but has lived most of her life in Barcelona. She received a fellowship from the NEA for her translation of The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Two Lines, Words Without Borders, A Public Space, World Literature Today, PEN America, and Review of Contemporary Fiction.

"Rodoreda had bedazzled me by the sensuality with which she reveals things within the atmosphere of her novels. . . . A writer who still knows how to name things has already won half the battle, and Rodoreda knew how to do that as well as anyone who wrote in her mother tongue." 
—Gabriel Garcia Márquez

"Mercè Rodoreda is the writer I cannot stop talking about." 
—Alberto Ríos