Bantam, Paperback, 9780553385083, 290pp.
Publication Date: February 26, 2008
Juan Castro Perez 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....
“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