Xosé María Díaz Castro (1914-1990) is considered one of the greatest exponents of twentieth-century Galician poetry, alongside such names as Álvaro Cunqueiro, Celso Emilio Ferreiro and Aquilino Iglesia Alvariño. He published only one book during his lifetime, Halos. A short book, it comprises thirty-two poems divided into seven sections and containing one of the most emblematic of all Galician poems, ‘Penelope’. The book embraces such themes as the writing of poetry, the poet’s love for Galicia and his philosophical concerns, including his religious faith. Many of the poems were written in hendecasyllables and alexandrines and this translation by John Rutherford has set out to reproduce the metre as well as the meaning with remarkable success. The deep-seated concerns of this man, a translator and schoolteacher as well as a poet, are brought into English for the first time.
After the death of his father in a caving accident, Hadrián is forced to move to Galicia with his mother and start at a new school. His mother gives him a medallion that belonged to his father, showing a dragon in a threatening posture on one side and the same dragon incubating an egg on the other. When the dragon’s tails move, the boy realizes this is no ordinary medallion. Meanwhile, he has noticed the stone effigy of a dragon on the cornice of St Peter’s Church, which winks at him and infiltrates his thoughts. The boy’s destiny, it seems, is to sacrifice himself so that the dragon can come back to life after an interval of a thousand years, during which it has been protected in the catacombs under the church. The boy and his classmate Mónica will first have to locate the catacombs with the help of the parish priest, Father Xurxo, before they can ascertain whether the dragon’s existence is for real.
Often described as the Galician J. K. Rowling, Elena Gallego Abad is the author of three novels about Dragal, the Galician dragon seeking to reincarnate. The saga starring Hadrián, Mónica and Father Xurxo will soon be made into a film and further novels in the series are planned.
A teenage boy is sent by his mother to spend a few days in the country as a way of getting him out of trouble. In the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, one hour north of Paris, the boy finds life with his great-aunt unbearable – that is until the arrival of the painter Vincent van Gogh, who has come to escape difficulties in the south. It is the summer of 1890 and already eight months have passed since the boy left his mother. He begins a friendship with the painter, taking him to places he hasn’t seen and engaging in conversations that open his eyes to a different way of viewing the world, bringing to an end his turbulent past. He also struggles with the reasons for his mother’s disappearance from the town where she grew up and experiences the first embers of romantic love when he develops an interest in the daughter of van Gogh’s innkeeper, Adeline. Based on real events, this imaginative story of a teenage boy’s friendship with an inspired painter and participation in the events of a provincial town, where he meets the local doctor, a war hero, and railway pointsman, as well as the man who could turn out to be his real father, rushes to its inevitable conclusion like the trains that slice through the countryside on their way to Paris.
Marcos Calveiro is one of Galicia’s most popular fiction writers with an uncanny ability to identify with the lives of his protagonists. His works have appeared in both the IBBY Honour List and the White Ravens Catalogue of outstanding children’s literature and received numerous awards.
André Santomé Lobeira is a teenager whose parents divorced when he was five. He puts on a front at school to defend himself against the bullies Raúl Pernas and Héctor Solla, who do everything they can to make his life miserable. He starts deliberately getting low marks in the hope they will ignore him. This encourages his grandfather to intervene, and André goes to live with his grandparents, who run a restaurant, The Birdhouse, in the garden of which his grandfather has an orphanage for birds. André finds a baby cut-throat finch, a finch with a red line across its neck, and keeps it as a pet. He is torn between two girls – Halima, a Moroccan girl in his class whose mother died as they were crossing into Spain, who helps him stand up to the bullies; and Dove, a girl he meets on the Internet, who helps him with his homework and when his grandfather falls ill. Dove arranges for them to meet in person, but André is afraid this will ruin their friendship and feels a strange sense of betrayal to the other girl in his life, Halima. He almost wishes Dove had never arranged their meeting…
Fina Casalderrey is one of Galicia’s foremost writers of young adult fiction, with over fifty works to her name. She is the recipient of the Spanish National Prize for Literature and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
Víctor Moldes is an outstanding psychiatry student, looking to test his knowledge on patients. He is given a job at the prestigious Beira Verde Clinic in Galicia, near the Portuguese border, and handed a patient, Laura Novo, who is capable only of writing her name on blank sheets of paper. Slowly he draws her out of herself and she agrees to tell him her story, how she left Madrid in order to work on her thesis and escape a difficult relationship that was going nowhere. Her return to the land where she grew up, to stay in a guest house run by a schoolteacher she had fallen passionately in love with when she was a teenager, has fatal consequences. Her presence in the remote area of Terra Chá awakens the Great Beast, who up until that moment had been slumbering in the depths of the earth. Once awake, the Great Beast has one year to achieve its objective. Dr Moldes finds himself drawn into a conflict he is barely able to understand, let alone control, and, having finally pieced together the fragments of the narrative, he is in a race against time to save his patient.
Agustín Fernández Paz is Galicia’s best-selling children’s author. He has been nominated for both the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. In 2008 his book of stories Nothing Really Matters in Life More Than Love won the Spanish National Prize for Literature.
In this extraordinary account, Carys Evans-Corrales takes the reader on a cultural rollercoaster ride. As a child growing up in the Singapore, Malaysia and Jamaica of the 1950s and 1960s, the author came into contact with a host of languages and cultural influences, ranging from the Hainanese she spoke as a toddler to the Welsh counting song and English nursery rhymes she was taught by her mother to the Mandarin songs of Chinese children. In Kuala Lumpur, she came into contact with Malay, whose idioms delighted her, and in Kingston, Jamaica, with Jamaican patois, where she was shocked by the racially charged atmosphere. In Jamaica, she was introduced to Spanish, which conditioned her next move – to study Linguistics at York University in the UK, specializing in Spanish. This, in turn, led to a year abroad in Seville, where the author played the role of Andalusian novia, and, after completing her undergraduate degree, to a year of research in Salamanca. During this year, she was offered a job at the university in Santiago de Compostela, where she went in 1974, just as the Franco years were coming to an end and Galicia was recovering its language and identity. But it was in a move to America, in 1985, that the author finally acquired her own identity and laid the ghosts of her past to rest. The account of these years is littered with anecdotes about local people, school friends, linguistic conundrums and political backdrops, and offers a sweeping view of the second half of the twentieth century lived out on three continents.
How are English words connected? Is there a consistent set of rules by which words in the English language are connected not according to their etymology, their evolution over time, but according to their letters? These letters may be rearranged, read back to front, altered according to the laws of phonetics, their position in the alphabet, their physical appearance, their numerical value. So while the reverse of live is evil, we can count down from I to O and find love instead (as sin gives son). The ego, by taking a step back in the alphabet, can be turned into God. Using the laws of phonetics, we can realize that the true purpose of the self is to serve. In The Life of a Translator, Jonathan Dunne offers a clear, direct introduction to the ways in which English words can be connected according to their DNA, arguing that words have something to tell us about human life, but their meaning is hidden and must be deciphered (God is code). In this sense, language is similar to the environment. We think we see what is around us, but we are spiritually blind even after we have opened our eyes, and it is this spiritual blindness causing a crisis in the world because of how we treat our world, the environment, each other and, ultimately, ourselves.
Pilar Pallarés is considered one of the most evocative voices in contemporary Galician poetry. A Leopard Am I, published in Galician in 2011, is her fourth poetry collection and was awarded the poetry prize of the Galician-Language Writers Association. She has also published In the Dusk (1980), Seventh Solitude (1984, winner of the Esquío Prize for poetry) and Book of Devorations (1996, winner of the Galician Critics’ Prize for literary creation). She has written extensively on other Galician poets such as Rosalía de Castro (whose Galician Songs is published by Small Stations Press), Luís Pimentel and Ricardo Carvalho Calero. This is her first collection to appear in English.
Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) is considered the founder of modern Galician literature. She wrote three major books of poetry: two in Galician, Galician Songs and New Leaves, and one in Spanish, On the Banks of the Sar. Nourished by the popular songs the author heard around her, Galician Songs was first published in 1863 and dedicated on 17 May, the date that a hundred years later, in 1963, would become and has remained Galician Literature Day, when the work of a particular Galician author is celebrated. Galician Songs marks the first full publication of any of Rosalía de Castro’s books of poetry in English and is accompanied by a translator’s introduction that argues for the importance and contemporaneity of the author’s work and poetics, not just in Galician, but in English.
Long Night of Stone is the most famous book of Galician poetry published during Franco’s dictatorship. The poem with this title is the result of the author’s imprisonment in Celanova Monastery during the Spanish Civil War; the book is read as a metaphor for the long years of dictatorship that ensued. Celso Emilio Ferreiro, a man of unwavering commitment, who stands with the downtrodden and oppressed and refuses to give up hope on the world, was himself born in Celanova, a town in the province of Ourense, in 1912 and died in Vigo in 1979. The message the book contains is surprisingly modern, inviting us as it does to investigate the truth of our own time and find our poetry.