Perhaps driven by a desire to thwart recent travel restrictions, reading a novel from every country on Earth has become the latest gimmick to take the book world by storm. Most of these literary Phileas Foggs look no further than Don Quixote or the works of Carlos Ruiz Zafón when fulfilling the Spanish leg of their journey. Yet, as Take Six: Six Spanish Women Writers makes clear, those who disregard female Iberian voices do so at their peril.
Part of a wider collection bringing previously untranslated short stories to English-speaking audiences, Take Six’s opening author proves to be the ideal spokeswoman for its cause. Emilia Pardo Bazán’s impassioned tone and uncompromising plots lay bare the very misogyny that has prevented her voice from being widely heard before now. And, like any girl group worth their salt, the authors that follow each add something fresh and distinctive to the mix.
Alongside Bazán’s vehemence sit Carmen de Burgos’ lyricism, Carmen Laforet’s wistfulness, Cristina Fernández Cubas’ surrealism, Soledad Puértolas’ angst and Patricia Esteban Erlés’ biting wit. Arranged chronologically according to the year of the authors’ births, the volume doubles as an unexpectedly wonderful time machine, whisking the reader through over a century of changing styles, concerns and attitudes as it seeks to uncover a region of Spain’s literary landscape where few British readers have ventured before.
Take Six: Six Spanish Women Writers, Simon Deefholts & Kathryn Phillips-Miles [eds.] (Dedalus)
Price: £9.99. Info: here
words RACHEL REES
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