None So Blind by J A Gonzalez Sainz

None So Blind by J A Gonzalez

Spanish fiction

Original title – Ojos que no ven

Translator -Harold Augenbraum and Cecilla Ross

Source – personal copy

I reviewed a couple of books from Hispabooks that published a number of Spanish writers and their books into English based in Spain they broke through a number of the recent writers I have loved Navarro and Barba being two of note that they published first over here. This is the first book by the Spanish writer Jose Angel Gonzalez Sainz to be translated into English he has written a number of novels. He won the Herralde prize one of the big book prizes in Spain. He was the founder and editor of the magazine Archipelago He has also translated a number of works from Italian to English including the works of Claudio Magris with whom he is a good friend. Nine so blind is the first of his books to be translated into English.

Diaz carrion, Felipe Diaz Carrion, knew from an early age, from the first times his father , may he rest in peace, took him along on the road to the field, that Egyptian Vultures were the first vultures to arrive on the scen wherever there was carrion, Genrally they are quiet and quick, his father told him, impressing him to the point of awe, quieter and quicker than anypne else, and despite their large size they don’t make type of dramatic commotion other vultures do, so sometimes they go unnoticed even thpugh they’re always there from the beginning, going about their buisness.

Maybe felipe is like the vulture unnoticed at times a quiet man and his world

The book focuses on the life of Felipe Diaz Carrion a printer that has always work in print shops what we follow is his life the three generations his relationship with his father. His time with his wife. The book follows him leaving his g=hometown and the fields that his family had worked and lived in for many years there is a recurring image of a Vulture and Egyptian vulture that is white and as is point out at a distance looks like a stork at times a motif of life and death this is a story of a quiet man a no one but when he moves North when his wife suggested that they will have a better life and his work life will be better in the Basque region he works at a print shop but is always the outside and the sense of tension there is at the Basque of the time the book is set the height of the recent troubles seems to simmer all around them as things turn for the worse he has a son but they chose to not take the family name of Felipe so we have the third generation of the family with Juan Jose or  Juanjo as he is known growing up in the height of the Basque regions as the famoly start to get involved with the world around them and Felipe often turns a blind eye or maybe doesn’t want to see what is happening around him. This is a story of one man’s life a man with morals in a world of fewer morals a man that tries to do the right thing but is often at odds with those around him.

But the years, now marked by the rhythm of that commute, which had gradually become as familar as his old road to the field, were passing comfortably. Asun, his wife, after a difficult adjustment period seemed to be feeling more and more at home as time went on, and their son- their elder son, because a year after they moved there, they’d had another one, and withthis one he had insited, perhaps for reason of nostalgia, on naming him Felipe – was well into his teenage years and had began not only to go out with his posee of friends but to be out with them at what might call every waking hour, in fact. To him, there was nothing more important at his pose, and no household routine or opinon, or, in any case, not his fathers, held the least valuefor him compared to those his friend would spout.

Caught between tradition and the real world at times

There is a dark shadow over this book with the Basque ETA situation it adds to the world they come to when they move to the Basque region this is a man that seems to lose every way he turns a quiet man that leaves all he knows to move to for a dream. But the reality sinks in the recurring theme of the Vulture is hoovering over is like the death of a family in a way death of a tradition. For me, I was reminded of the undercurrent that I felt visiting Northern Ireland in my youth at the height of troubles the constant sense of undercurrent that was there the normal world that isn’t normal. There is also the ease one can get caught up in the passion and fury that is in that world.

Winstons score – B – an insight into one mans life.

July 2021
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