Of Saints and Miracles

New Vessel. Jun. 2022. 208p. tr. from Spanish by Claire Wadie. ISBN 9781954404069. pap. $26.95. F
Among the New Voices from Europe 2017, Spanish author Astur blends myth, meditation, and storytelling in his first book to appear in English. At its heart is simple soul Marcelino, whose abusive father and gentle mother are now dead and whose scornful brother (“you’re an animal, you can’t read”) tricks him out of the family homestead he’s tended on his own. Lashing out, Marcelino inadvertently kills his brother and is on the run, with the populace rising to his defense as he travels through the rugged mountains of northern Spain to his grandparents’ deserted home, an abandoned mine, and, finally, the silvery sea. Braided into this evocative narrative—not so much as amplification but as the point—is philosophical reflection on time’s connectedness and human impuissance in the face of nature, explaining that there is “no life, no death. There is only a vast and never-ending story” to which we all belong but not uniquely: “you lived 25,000 years ago.” Figuring into this luminous whole are stories of Marcelino’s community, plus nymphs, he-goats, and the fruitful meetings between Sun and Moon, Moon and River.
VERDICT “We have the voice and we have the time. We have all time” proclaims Astur. Great reading for lovers of the mythopoetic.
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