Ainelle is a village high in the Spanish Pyrenees. Its houses now stand deserted - and have done so for many years - most of them in ruins. Its last surviving inhabitant, an old man at death's door, lingers on, and as the first snows of the year fall and the 'yellow rain' of autumn leaves flutters about him, he recalls the life he lived and the ghosts - once his friends and neighbours - who now frequents his wavering memory and who have taken possession of his solitude. Hailed on first publication, and continuously reprinted, Julio Llamazares' powerful monologue - an elegy to the power of memory - is rightly regarded as a modern classic of Spanish literature. 'Immediately satisfying - a haunting farewell to a way of life' - "Time Out". 'Poignant and exquisite - a sublime and relevant fable' - "Scotland on Sunday". 'A novel that does honour to Spanish literature' - "Corriere della Sera".
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Julio Llamazares was born in the now vanished town of Vegamian in 1955. Trained as a lawyer, he moved to Madrid, where he now lives, to devote himself to journalism and writing. He has written novels, including the much-praised Luna de Lobos, as well as prize-winning books of poetry.From Publishers Weekly:
In this somber and elegiac novel, Llamazares's first to be translated into English, the last, dying resident of a deserted village in the Spanish Pyrenees, "forgotten by everyone, condemned to gnaw away at my memory and my bones like an old dog," summons the ghosts of his past. The closing of the local mill sent Ainielle's population to other towns, until only the elderly narrator and his wife, Sabine, remained. Lonely and grieving, Sabine killed herself, and the old man is left with only his loyal, sorrowful dog. Now, on what seems to be his final night on earth, he recalls the tragedies that have befallen him: his daughter, Sara, died when she was only four; the Spanish Civil War claimed his son Camilo; and his other beloved son, Andres (the narrator's namesake), "abandoned" his family to seek his fortune. The old man has never forgiven Andres, nor anyone else who left the village to rot, its houses collapsing "like an animal felled by a bullet." Llamazares's gorgeous prose evokes the empty streets and desolate landscape as effectively as it suggests ambiguities in the narrative's truth: is Andr‚s the elder a crazy, potentially dangerous man who sees visions of the dead? Or is he himself a ghost? A gorgeous, heartbreaking meditation on memory and solitude, and a poetic accounting of physical and spiritual decay, Llamazares's slender novel transports readers to a grim and unforgettable world.
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