The Barcelona Review. International Review of Contemporary Fiction
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We are pleased to kick off the year with some juicy new fiction. In The New Frontier by Jess Walter, from Spokane, Washington, the question is posed:  “How well do you really know your old high school friends?” As two old buddies pair up on a trip to Vegas in search of the sister of one of them, the answer becomes clear:  not all that well. 

Glasgow-born Ryan O’Neill lived in Africa and Asia before settling in Newcastle, Australia, so his stories have diverse settings, and are often conceptual in nature.  In The Examination, the cruel reality of a young Rwandan boy’s life is hidden within his English exam paper.

Next up, from the US, Aren’t You Dead Yet? by writer, editor, and all-round literary personality,  Elissa Schappell.  Slightly longer than our usual offerings, but this story of a young girl’s growth from her formative years with a self-centered artist boyfriend to a young woman of more certainty will keep you glued.

And from the UK, The Stormchasers by Adam Marek, winner of the  2011 Arts Foundation Short Story Fellowship, among other honors.  Here, a young boy and his father go chasing after tornadoes, but what else is brewing?         

And last of all, from Lawrence Olstad, who has been a criminal lawyer in Portland, Oregon, an anecdotal piece drawn from his experience.  You can picture the characters in Jimmy G—and appreciate the lawyer behind them.

Picks from back issues are two superb stories: Julie Orringer’s Care, and from Spain, Javier Marías’s Fewer Scruples.

The quiz this issue is Fiction of 2013. There was a lot of hot fiction last year and you probably know the ten books in our quiz even if you haven’t read them all.  Have a go and you may win a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon. Three correct responses to last issue’s quiz on 21st Century Lit 2:  Names into a hat and the winner came out Nigel Kendrick. Click here for the answers.

In book reviews, 2013 saw the paperback release of Scottish writer Alan Warner’s superb The Deadman’s Pedal, which is our feature here. I often fear Warner is overlooked in the States, so if he is new to you, don’t miss out on his exquisite prose. By all means, read Morvern Callar, his first novel, set in the Scottish highlands with a foray into Club Med Spain.

Local News: Will Catalonia gain its independence from Spain? That is the hope of many Catalans, who plan to hold a referendum next November. It will contain a question with two sections: “Do you want Catalonia to become a State?” and “In case of an affirmative response, do you want this State to be independent?” The Spanish government, of course, has stated its intention to attempt to block the referendum, stating ”Such a poll will not be held.”

In other news, a huge step backwards for women last month when the right-wing government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave his Cabinet approval for a new abortion law that would allow terminations only in the case of rape or when there is a serious health risk to the mother or fetus. Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón has defended the reform, calling it the "most progressive and advanced" the government has enacted. “Progressive and advanced” for whom? women are asking, while venting their outrage in the social media. The Socialist Party has always defended a woman’s right to choose, which has been the law, and which it still defends, but it no longer holds majority power.

Stay tuned. It’s gonna be a hot year.

Peace and love,


The Barcelona Review


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