The sky over Lima by Juan Gómez Bárcena

The sky over Lima by Juan Gómez Bárcena

Spanish fiction

Original title – Cielo de Lima

Translator Andrea Rosenberg

Source – review copy

Well I kick of this Spanish lit month with a new name to most English readers Juan Gomez Barcena. This was his debut novel it won the Ojo critico prize and was shortlisted for another major prize in Spain. He studied comparative literature , philosophy and History. He was also on a list of the best Spanish writer under thirty in Spain.

At first it’s just a letter drafted many times: dearest friend, respected poet, most esteemed sir, a different opening for every sheet or paper that ends up in a crumpled ball under the desk, glory of Spanish literature, most distinguished Ramon Jimenez, peerless bard, comrade. The next day the mulatta servant will sweep up the wads of paper scattered across the floor, thinking they’re the poems of the young master of the house, carlos rodriguez.

The opening as they try as themselves to write to Jimenez before making up Georgina to write to him .

This is one of those books that tells a real event in a novel form. The event surrounds the writing of letters to the Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez from two fellow poets in Peru well in Lima. The two poets Jose and Carlos decide on a plan to get the latest work from Jimenez which has yet to reach the book shops of lima they write to him as a Peruvian lady called Georgina. what follows in the book is a series of letter between the two (well three in reality) as Jimenez falls for Gerogina and the world that is described Peru in 1904 a town changing through the eyes of a young woman makes Jimenez fall for the place and woman. A tale of love across the sea that inspired the poet to write some love poems about this woman.We see the two poets abandon their own poems to grab on to the coat tails of Jimenez and his poems.

So he has to write about love. But what does he know about that?It could be that Carlos is more apprehensive about this than he initially seemed and we must attribute to him a second fear: the terror that the story of Juan Ramon and Georgina will ultimately reveal nothing more than how little his own life is worth.becasue all good fiction is rooted in genuine emotion, as the professor put it, which means that to write about love a novelist must look to his experiences, make use of everything he’s learned in a woman’s arms.

Carlos wonders what the letters will be made of when it turns to love letters .

An interesting and strange work to open this spanish lit month. It takes a corner of history and opens it up back to a time when a written word meant more letters were the way to keep in contact and people could fall in love over the written word . This is one for the fans of Bolano or Vila-Matas poets in a wild town of lima in the day remind me of Bolano world of poets in Mexico and the fact this was a true story some what Jimenez had exchange letters with a woman from Peru.Brought back memories of the way Vila-Matas uses places and the writers associated with them to place his stories in context.A fun debut novel that shows the power of the written word over men and the power books can have over other men as that is how the story started. A wonderful opening gambit for this Spanish lit month.

What have you planned for Spanish lit month ?


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David H
    Jul 01, 2016 @ 09:16:02

    I love the sound of this book – love the quotes as well.

    I’ve decided to have a go at reading Don Quixote, even if it takes me all month!


  2. heatherdpear
    Jul 01, 2016 @ 15:00:14

    I don’t have any specific plans for the month, but this one has been on my tbr list for a while now. The premise is very attractive


  3. 1streading
    Jul 01, 2016 @ 18:28:28

    I’ve almost bought this on more than one occasion and now you’re making me regret I didn’t!
    Is that the US cover? – it’s not the one I’ve seen.


  4. roughghosts
    Jul 01, 2016 @ 23:05:40

    I am hoping to contribute a few reviews this month starting with Bolaño’s By Night in Chile. I seem to be unable to post to your co-host’s site (I prefer not post with my Google ID as it is meaningless but that is always blogspot’s default) so please make note of my intention to take part. I need the incentive and have a fair stack of mostly skinny Spanish books standing by. 🙂


    • winstonsdad
      Jul 02, 2016 @ 06:48:32

      Bolano wrote some great novellas for me they are as good as his two epics on the whole look forward to your reviews


      • roughghosts
        Jul 02, 2016 @ 06:53:40

        The two books I bought, one novella and a short story collection, were suggested in a late night Twitter debate: Borges vs Bolaño. To be honest my image of Bolaño has always been the doorstopping 2666. I had no idea how of his work is out there (especially with New Directions here in N America). And to think he died so young!

      • winstonsdad
        Jul 02, 2016 @ 06:56:17

        I’ve reviewed most of his novellas there is a lot out there I think that it has all now been translated into English it is hard to compare the two other than them both being large figures in Latin American fiction borges influenced bolano as he has a lot of Latin American writers

      • roughghosts
        Jul 02, 2016 @ 07:02:15

        I think it was a deliberately provocative question (for fun) but when I admitted to having read no Bolano I got plenty of suggestions (and like a good boy I trotted out and bought the two that most appealed). 🙂

  5. JacquiWine
    Jul 02, 2016 @ 06:26:56

    Thank you for the introduction to this writer, a new one on me. (At the risk of sounding a bit shallow, I love that cover – it would catch my eye in a bookshop.)

    I have a couple of reviews in mind for Spanish Lit Month, a Marias and a 19th century classic. Looking forward to the month – thanks for co-hosting it with Richard.


  6. julikins
    Jul 05, 2016 @ 15:07:01

    Sounds great! I love Bolaño and Vila-Matas so will definitely check this one out.


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July 2016


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