The Barcelona Review. International Review of Contemporary Fiction
Trees Dance Naked


The hot summer has passed to a fall chill here in Barcelona with rainy days that often push one off the café terraces and into the warmth of a smoke-filled interior.  Yep, they still permit smoking in the bars and small cafés, so if you can’t comfortably sip coffee, wine or caipirinhas surrounded by the locals puffing away, better stay home. Wherever you choose to read, we hope you don’t miss our latest offerings.

From Australia, where you can tote your reading on the beach, we are thrilled to present Félix Calvino, a native Spaniard from Galicia, who immigrated to Australia some years ago and writes in a beautiful English.  In a Hatful of Cherries, the setting is a post-civil war Spanish village, now partly abandoned, where the moral code is strict though the people not heartless; while Detour follows a man stranded along the Galician coastline, his car broken down, which poses the question:  why is he there in the first place?

From the U.S. Josip Novakovich’s Spleen is a telling tale of a Bosnian immigrant, now residing in the U.S., who cannot completely untangle herself from the war-torn past.

We’re also pleased to have an essay from Novakovich, Comparative Childhoods, in which he compares his children’s lives in the United States to his own childhood in Croatia, where, for example, “sex offenders and child molesters weren’t a topic,” unlike today in the U.S. where one click on the internet from a concerned parent shows all the child molesters in a five-mile radius—quite a few, actually—and prompts a school security system like a “fortress.”  There’s no going back, of course, but it is curious to compare.  What’s lost?  What’s gained?  How can the two environments be so entirely different?

In picks from back issues, be sure to catch Welsh-writer Niall GriffithsComing of Age, one of the raunchiest coming-of-age stories you’ll ever find; and Atima Srivastava’s Dragons in E8, set in London’s Downs Hackney council estate where heroin comes in via an unexpected route.

Our quiz this issue is on Excerpts from 15 Top 21st-Century U.S. Novels.  So if you’ve read your DeLillo and Erdrich and Roth and the other biggies, you’ll ace it; otherwise, there is always google.  Two correct responses to last issue’s quiz, U.S. Politics in Fiction—Liam Rodger and Liam Connolly. A drawing gave the win to Liam Rodger, who receives a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon.

In book reviews, read about Haruki Murakami’s latest non-fiction book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which is all about how running is intrinsically linked to his writing; Félix Calvino’s debut collection, A Hatful of Cherries, the title story of which is featured in this issue; and two Scottish novels:  Laura Marney’s darkly comic My Best Friend Has Issues; and Des Dillon’s My Epileptic Lurcher, which is about just that, as well as a lovable bloke with anger issues.

Local news:  Much cheering in the streets over Obama’s win in the U.S.  I have to rethink my position over here; it’s not the world as I knew it:  Where are the burning U.S. flags and smashed windows in McDonalds and other U.S. chains?  Why isn’t the U.S. consulate smeared with paint?  We Americans abroad have lived so long under the ugly American that it is hard to register that, gulp, Americans are liked again!  It’s going to take some getting used to, I can tell you. I feel for those hard-core protesters who were just itching to have a go but were left with no reason to burn or bash anything.

Yes, there is a different feeling in the air.  Truly, I have never experienced anything like it in my 21 years here.  After following the election all night on the internet, all alone, I woke up on the 5th to dozens of congratulatory emails, and the phone calls started at noon.  Now, when I go to the local café or bar, the bread shop, the pharmacy—anywhere and everywhere—I am immediately welcomed with ¡Felicidades! ¡Felicidades!, and everyone there looks at me and joins in.  I am made to feel special because of my country—an entirely new feeling, let any American abroad tell you. More than one person has said: ¡Esta es la América que amo!   (That is the America I love!)    

And that is the America I love.  Thank you Barack Obama, thank you. The world, for now, stands with you. That support and enthusiasm might waver in the tough days ahead, but I don’t think it will disappear altogether, not soon anyway.  The people want Barack Obama to succeed, and there is immense power and hope in that.  Bless. 

We’ll be back with our next issue in January.  Click here if you’d like to be notified when new issues are online.  And drop us a line with your thoughts.

All the best from Barcelona,

Jill Adams


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