War, So Much War
November 10, 2015
novel | pb | 185 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"
“Rodoreda had bedazzled me by the sensuality with which she reveals things within the atmosphere of her novels.”
—Gabriel García Marquez
“It is a total mystery to me why [Rodoreda] isn’t widely worshipped. . . . She’s on my list of authors whose works I intend to have read all of before I die. Tremendous, tremendous writer.”
—John Darnielle, The Mountain Goats
Despite its title, there is little of war and much of the fantastic in this coming-of-age story, which was the last novel Mercè Rodoreda published during her lifetime.
We first meet its young protagonist, Adrià Guinart, as he is leaving Barcelona out of boredom and a thirst for freedom, embarking on a long journey through the backwaters of a rural land, accompanied by the interminable, distant rumblings of an indefinable war. In vignette-like chapters and a narrative style imbued with the fantastic, Guinart meets with numerous adventures and peculiar characters who offer him a surrealistic view of an impoverished, war-ravaged society and shape his perception of his place in the world.
Like Rodoreda’s Death in Spring, nature and death play a fundamental role in this phantasmagoric narrative that seems to be a meditation on moral degradation and the often inescapable presence of evil. (Read an Excerpt)
Translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño & 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 Stories, The Time of the Doves, Camellia Street, Garden 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 and The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda are also available from Open Letter.
About the Translators: Maruxa Relaño is a journalist and English-language translator working from Spanish and Catalan. She was a translator for the Wall Street Journal and wrote for the New York Daily News, New York Sun, New York Magazine, Newsday, and Hoy Newspaper, among others. Her recent co-translations include the novels A Man of His Word by Imma Monsó and The Sea by Blai Bonet.
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 plumbs a sadness that reaches beyond historic circumstances . . . an almost voluptuous vulnerability.”
"Mercè Rodoreda has been a favorite of mine ever since college. . . . War, So Much War helps to expand our understanding of a world-class writer’s fiction, with, hopefully more to come."
—Jeff VanderMeer, author of The Southern Reach Trilogy