Review of Juan Goytisolo's The Garden Of Secrets
Speaking recently in Edinburgh, the man Carlos Fuentes called 'the greatest living Spanish novelist' declared his firm belief that fiction, even for the most politically committed writer, should never be merely a vehicle for political ideas or propaganda. It is no surprise, then, to find that Juan Goytisolo's new novel touches only tangentially on political reality; none the less, his recurring concerns gleam through the fantastical narrative.
Goytisolo's novels were banned in his native Spain until the death of Franco and since 1956 he has lived in exile in Paris and Marrakesh. Defiantly pluralist, he has long been an advocate of multiculturalism and a fierce opponent of Spain's obstinate refusal to acknowledge the extent of Moorish and Jewish contributions to its culture and history, particularly its literature.
The Garden of Secrets is an attempt to recreate the polyphonic nature of literature by presenting the novel as a series of tales told by a circle of 28 anonymous readers over a period of three weeks. His 28 storytellers - one for each letter of the Arabic alphabet, a nod to the Cabbala - bring together, we are told, an impressive range of educational backgrounds, professions, literary tastes and ideologies with a specific, anti-authoritarian aim.
You can find the full review here.
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