VICIOUS

VICIOUS by Xurxo Borrazás

Shakespearean drama set in a Galician context. There is something strikingly postmodern – or Elizabethan – about this novel, in which a man from Laracha, south-west of Coruña, on Galicia’s famed Coast of Death, is on the run for committing a multiple murder that shocks the local community and has the priest calling for the razing of the local slums. Chucho Monteiro, who has always been overlooked by his father in favor of his younger brother, Daniel, more pliable, less violent, heads to the port of Coruña in order to effect his escape on the first ship weighing anchor, a ship that will take him not to Stratford, but to Southampton and on. In a fascinating, multi-layered narrative, the author keeps the reader guessing about the murderer’s final destination until the very end. Narrative chronology is mixed up, and the veil between author and reader is torn in two, so that we’re not sure if we are witnesses or partakers of this narrative. Vicious (called Criminal in Galician) is Xurxo Borrazás’ second and best-known novel, and won him the Spanish Critics’ Prize as well as the San Clemente Prize awarded by high-school readers.

Chapter 1

I’m still here, lying at the entrance to the threshing floor, looking up at the sky with closed eyes, my arms spread open and a leg stretched out, sprawled over the damp grass.

Nothing hurts. Nothing at all. True, the pain had its moment, but now all I feel is nothing.

The plank gate remains open, swinging gently against its stone frame. Moino is making circles around me. Sniffing me.

It’s been an hour and no one’s come by. Above the house the smoke from the chimney has faded somewhat and the wind makes a soft, continuous hum among the branches of the eucalyptus trees.

The clouds rest in an invisible sky. Gray, dark, cloaking clouds. Motionless clouds, heavy and low, lying in malevolent wait for events on the earth below, as if settling like dew upon the early morning. As if onto a cold, silent bed.

I can’t see him, and I can’t see her either. Those two! I don’t know what his face was like when… when did it all start? When the baby arrived, maybe? Or before that? What I did see was the rest, full on. But that doesn’t matter.

Dinner was still in the pot. The plates were on the table, the knives and forks beside them, and the uncut country loaf in its cloth bag.

It’s like wine, like wine. Wine splashing into china drinking bowls, painting them.

Moino is snuffling at my boots and rubbing his muzzle into their mud-covered soles, nipping at my corduroy trouser legs, at the ragged cuffs of my woolen sweater. He lifts his enormous head and a gust of air arcs his whiskers. Whining, the dog eyes the unpaved path, the horizon, the tiny villages scattered along the valley, where people are coming home to their dinners.

Nothing hurts. Nothing at all. My black beret is soaking in a puddle nearby, in some tire tracks carved up in the dirt by passing carts. My straight, brown hair is collecting weeds ripped up by the rain.

The dolled-up lady in black walks lightly down the path leading to Abelares. She looks like a young girl, lively and smiling in her party dress. She passes me as if dancing a jig, her arms in the air and her fingers close together. She reaches the house, steps into the orchard and turns to face me. She smiles, showing her white teeth and painted lips, and walks leisurely down the path to the enclosed forest.

The fig trees did well this year. An aroma of apples rises from under the straw and wafts from the closets, and the chestnut trees are beginning to blanket the ground with half-open seed cases. The cool night wind hums as it drives raindrops from the leaves on the trees. The plume of smoke from the chimney has faded away, although there are still embers in the fireplace – inside, under the cauldron with the ruined dinner.

The animals lie in the dark inside their pen, settled in for the night. The hens wander among the cows, pecking at their gorse bed.

Moino licks my nose and lips, lies down beside me, rests his head on my chest and snuggles up against it, eyes wide open.

There’s a man lying in the cold, wet grass at the entrance to the threshing floor. It’s me.

 

Translated from Galician by Carys Evans-Corrales

Additional Info

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    VICIOUS by Xurxo Borrazás, the fourth title in the series Small Stations Fiction devoted to the best of contemporary fiction in English, is available for purchase through your local or online bookshop

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    Both in presentation and feel Vicious is very cinematic, short, tight scenes cutting back and forth.

    The Complete Review

     

    A clever variation on the thriller and an excellent examination of how jealousy can have fatal consequences, Vicious is a great read, a novel many of you out there would enjoy. I sped through this much more quickly than I’d expected, not because of any superficiality or ease of comprehension but because the short chapters drew me in, leading me to finish the book almost before I’d realised. Borrazás might not be one of the biggest of names in Spanish literature, but he’s certainly worth looking out for on the basis of this work – this is another big tick from me for Galician literature.

    Tony’s Reading List

     

    ISBN: 978-954-384-038-0

    Publication Date: 29 June 2015

    Language: English

    Paperback: 192 pages

    Dimensions: 203 x 133 mm

    A clever variation on the thriller and an excellent examination of how jealousy can have fatal consequences, Vicious is a great read, a novel many of you out there would enjoy. I sped through this much more quickly than I’d expected, not because of any superficiality or ease of comprehension but because the short chapters drew me in, leading me to finish the book almost before I’d realised. Borrazás might not be one of the biggest of names in Spanish literature, but he’s certainly worth looking out for on the basis of this work – this is another big tick from me for Galician literature.