Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

Reviews of Javier Cercas's Soldiers of Salamis (Soldados de Salamina)

Javier Cercas is a university lecturer and author, whose two previous novels and volume of short stories lacked an international impact. Then came Soldiers of Salamis, first published in 2001, which has sold more than half-a-million copies. It takes real characters from both sides of the Civil War and focuses on Sanchez Mazas, a founder member of the Falange, who became a Minister in Franco's government and a minor writer thereafter. Little attention has been paid to him for his political and literary careers were short and modest.

You can find the full review here.

It may be that there is no category of literature known as "non-fiction" in Spanish publishing. If there is, I wonder why Spanish and, for that matter, South American writers are so reluctant to occupy it.

Recent years have seen "novels" on Evita, Bolivar, Trujillo and other historical figures. This mixing of real and imagined things has produced some great books, and maybe it is inevitable in countries where research is difficult because documents are locked away, doctored or destroyed. But it's a grey area that makes me uncomfortable.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Soldiers of Salamis at

Spanish writer Javier Cercas was born in 1962. He is a novelist, short story writer and essayist, whose books include The Belly of the Whale (1997) and True Tales (2000). He has taught at the University of Illinois and since 1989 has been a lecturer in Spanish literature at the University of Gerona.

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