3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

These eight stories have been translated from Catalan into English for the first time. They were originally written in the early 1970s when Spain will still in the shadow of fascism and Franco.

The collection opens with a woman in the hospital who wakes up every morning wondering if it is going to be her last. She hears the laboured breathing of the woman next to her and knows as the screens are pulled over that then it will become a death rattle soon enough. The second story, Love and Ashes, is about a husband and wife who make the decision to travel to Africa so he can see the reticulated giraffes.

On the island, I walked up to the sea and begged it to tell me its secret. But the sea would only answer to the wind.

Other stories concern the inhabitants of a graveyard, a censor who stopped the public from reading the erotic stories in books but had a number of flaws of his own. Another story concerns a child who knew by the shoes his mother was wearing, who she had been with and what her mood was going to be like. She tried to hide him when they were conscripting seventeen-year-olds, but they found him soon enough.  He had almost no training before being dispatched for war.

I thought that this was a reasonable set of short stories. Roig prose, whilst politically charged, does not lose its sensitivity. There is plenty of variety in each story, they feel dystopian without having a strong science fiction vibe to them and it is great that Fum D’Estampa are bringing this and other books to a wider audience.

Three Favourite Stories
Free from War and Wave
I Don’t Understand Salmon
Love and Ashes

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