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Review by Edith Haeuser

 

I hope you’ll forgive me but when this pandemic began two years ago, I thought I would seize the opportunity and read some contemporary Spanish novels.

A book I liked a lot is Lo que olvidamos (That Which We Forget) by Paloma Díaz-Mas, published in 2016. We get to know the author’s mother who, suffering from dementia, now lives in an old people’s home. She has lost her memory to such a degree that she mistakes her daughter for her mother. It’s a very personal book about memory. The story elegantly moves between past and present as we get to know her mother’s life, her childhood during the Civil War, and the author’s memories of her own childhood. The story moves between the personal past and the collective past, i.e. the recent past of Spain, the end of the dictatorship and the establishment of democracy, when Spain entered a new era.

 

Paloma Díaz-Mas was born in 1954. She worked for many years as a professor of Spanish literature and language at the Basque University in Vitoria. She is a specialist in Medieval Spanish literature and Sephardic literature, language (Ladino) and culture. Her novels have not (yet) been translated into English, but her most comprehensive study of Sephardi culture has been translated:

Sephardim: The Jews from Spain (1993, 2007).

 

Her latest book, El pan que como (The Bread I Eat), published in 2020, is also a delightful read, and for cat lovers, Lo que aprendemos de los gatos (What We Learn from Cats) is a must.