Cry, Mother Spain
By Lydie Salvayre
A powerful account of the early days of the Spanish Civil War, seen through the eyes of a young girl.
Aged fifteen, as Franco's forces begin their murderous purges and cities across Spain rise up against the old order, Montse has never heard the word fascista before. In any case, the villagers say facha (the ch is a real Spanish ch, by the way, with a real spit).
Montse lives in a small village, high in the hills, where few people can read or write and fewer still ever leave. If everything goes according to her mother's plan, Montse will never leave either. She will become a good, humble maid for the local landowners, muchísimas gracias, with every Sunday off to dance the jota in the church square.
But Montse's world is changing. Her brother José has just returned from Lérida with a red and black scarf and a new, dangerous vocabulary and his words are beginning to open up new realms to his little sister. She might not understand half of what he says, but how can anyone become a maid in the Burgos family when their head is ringing with shouts of Revolución, Comunidad and Libertad?
The war, it seems, has arrived in the nick of time.
Lydie Salvayre is a former psychiatrist, who grew up near Toulouse after her exiled republican parents fled Franco's regime. As a child she spoke Spanish, only learning French after starting school. She studied medicine and specialised as a psychiatrist in Marseille, before beginning to write at the end of the 70's, with her first works appearing in literary reviews in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille around the beginning of the 1980's. Her novel La Compagnie des spectres won the Prix Novembre in 1997 and was named Book of the Year by Lire. Pas Pleurer won the Prix Goncourt in 2014.
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- Publication date:
16 Jun 2016
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Impressive ... an effective account of a hideous time of brutal politics and the desperate compromises many made to make life possible — David Mills, The Sunday Times
The great originality of this novel ... is the blending of the universal and personal experiences of the Spanish Civil War — Sebastian Lapaque, Figaro
An extraordinary book . . . very powerful — Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
Lydie Salvayre orchestrates her story like a true maestro — Jéròme Garcin, BibliObs
A turbulent, magnificent novel that shines a new light on the Spanish Civil War. It resonates with the power of a manifesto for modern times — François Busnel, Express
A seriously important novel ... The novel Pasolini would have written had he been the son of Spanish exiles — Josep Lambies, Time Out Barcelona
Lydie Salvayre has cultivated a resounding anger... Cry, Mother Spain is the novel and the tribute of an impassioned voice — Philippe Lançon, Libération
Lydie Salvayre creates a dynamic harmony in a language that elevates grit, heroism and beauty — Jean Birnbaum, Le Monde
Lydie Salvayre has written a novel about the Spanish Civil War unlike any other. Her approach gives her story an astonishing power and a unique perspective — Mercedes Monmay, ABC Cultural
A magnificent novel. A brilliantly written family saga and a mesmerising study of memory and historical reconstruction — Fran G. Matute, El Mundo