Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Don't Look Back! Andrew Hussey on the Tales of Medieval Moors Preoccupying Spanish Readers

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Don't Look Back! Andrew Hussey on the Tales of Medieval Moors Preoccupying Spanish Readers

Article excerpt

Most Spaniards would agree that, as a nation, they have never been big readers. But over the past ten years, the Spanish book world has undergone a revolution. Crisol and Fnac, the country's versions of Borders or Waterstone's, have made shopping for books an integral part of the new, metropolitan Spain. For the first time in years, book sales are booming.

But what exactly have your Spanish neighbours been reading on the playa this summer? The chances are that they have been enjoying a meaty historical novel by a living Spanish author. The writers Matilde Asensi, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Julia Navarro and--perhaps the most respected in literary terms--Arturo Perez-Reverte have between them sold more than 11 million copies in 40 countries. The wave of high postmodernism that defined Spanish culture in the late 20th century, characterised by the films of Pedro Almodovar and the uber-hip novels of Ray Loriga, has been replaced by an appetite for old-fashioned, if entertaining, hokum.

One of the most controversial members of this new literary generation is 36-year-old Javier Sierra, the slick host of a television show devoted to the paranormal on the Telemadrid channel. In 2006, Sierra became the first Spaniard to reach the New York Times bestseller list with his novel La Cena Secreta (The Secret Supper)--a Da Vinci Code-style thriller about Jesus, Renaissance mysteries and a 21st-century police investigation. A new edition of Sierra's La Dama Azul (The Lady in Blue), a tale of visions of the Virgin in New Mexico, will be published simultaneously in the US and the Spanish-speaking world in 2008. …

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