Publication Date: February 26, 2008
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Critically acclaimed throughout Spain, and now available for the first time in English, this tender, satirical novel vividly captures the intrinsic absurdity of war—and the joys of true friendship in a place where it is difficult to distinguish man from beast.
Juan Castro Pérez is a simple muleteer caught in the brutal Spanish Civil War. Never far from his closest companion—a stray mule named Valentina whom he is determined to keep for himself after the war—Juan engages in the low-brow drinking escapades, long shots at love, and an otherwise droning existence shared by his compatriots.
As he lies, cheats, and steals to protect Valentina during his improbable odyssey home, Juan unwittingly “fights” for both sides—and becomes a reluctant and unlikely hero of the people, exploited by opportunistic journalists desperately trying to convince the Spanish public that the war is under control, when it is anything but….
Juan Eslava Galán was born in Andalusia, Spain, in 1948. He is the author of more than fifty books, and winner of the Planeta Award for En Busca del Unicornia. He lives in Seville.
Lisa Dillman is the translator of over a half dozen book-length works of literature, history, and pedagogy. She is best known for her translation of Gioconda Belli’s The Scroll of Seduction. Dillman is a professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University in Atlanta. She lives in Decatur, Georgia.
“An excellent, lighthearted piece of literature.”—El Periódico
“A novel of intrigue and espionage that cleverly combines history with fiction.”—ABC Cultural
“Galan’s portrait of war’s brutality and absurdity echoes both Hemingway and Heller, but he gives the narrative his own cynical and idiosyncratic spin.”—Kirkus Reviews
“It’s a wonderful book…A dark comedy, deceptively simple and genuinely Spanish.”—Martin Cruz Smith, author of Stalin’s Ghost: An Arkady Renko Novel