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Stone in a Landslide [Paperback]

Maria Barbal , Paul Mitchell , Laura McGloughlin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Product Description


"A piece of world literature: In just one hundred pages and in sparse language a whole life story unfolds." --Inforadio, Kultur

"This book possesses such force and overpowering beauty, I haven't read something like this for a long time."
--Elke Heidenreich in her TV show lesen

"This book possesses such force and overpowering beauty, I haven't read something like this for a long time." --Elke Heidenreich in her TV show "lesen"

"A piece of world literature: In just one hundred pages and in sparse language a whole life story unfolds."
--Inforadio, Kultur

From the Publisher

"I fell in love with Conxa's narrative voice, its stoic calmness and the complete lack of anger and bitterness. It's a timeless voice, down to earth and full of human contradictory nuances. Its' the expression of someone who searches for understanding in a changing world but senses that ultimately there may be no such thing." Meike Ziervogel(publisher)

From the Author

"I was inspired by a true-life story when I wrote this novel, by a part of the collective past of my country, which still belongs or unfortunately can belong to anywhere and anytime (ever since I wrote it twenty-five years ago). I think I was given the plot to put it into words. I feel deeply grateful both to the people who offered it to me and to those who, still today, are moved by its reading." Maria Barbal (author)

"A genuinely great work of literature, the story is firmly located in the life of a single Catalan woman but the themes and the humanity of the writing are universal. It's a very short read, but the genius of it still creeps up on you; by a third of the way through - 30 pages - the narrator's experience resonates for you too. An outwardly modest but truly exceptional book." Paul Mitchell (editor)

About the Author

Maria Barbal, born in 1949, is considered the most influential Catalan contemporary author. The clarity with which she presents human relations and the effects of the passage of time has earned her critical acclaim and a wide readership. She has published eight novels and has won numerous awards, including the Critics' Prize, the National Prize for Literature and the Serra d'Or Prize. She lives in Barcelona.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Anyone could see that there were a lot of us at
home. Someone had to go. I was the fifth of six
children - Mother used to say I was there because
God had wanted me to be there and you have to
take what He sends you. The eldest was Maria,
who, more than Mother, ran the house. Josep
was the son and heir and Joan was going into the
church. We three youngest were told a hundred
times that we were more of a burden than a
blessing. These weren't years of plenty, there were
a lot of mouths to feed and not much land, which
of course left a hole. So it was decided that I, who
was level-headed and even-tempered, would be
sent to help my mother's sister, Tia. She'd given up
hope of having children but wasn't short of work.
She had married a man much older than her who
owned land, at least half a dozen cows, poultry
and rabbits, as well as a vegetable garden. They
got by well enough, but they could do with an
extra pair of hands and with the company because
they were starting to feel their age. I was thirteen
when, with a bundle of clothes in my arms, my
father on my left and Maria on my right, I left my
family, home, village and mountain. It was just a
few kilometres between Ermita and Pallarès, but
it meant a day's walk and losing sight of home.
At the time, this hurt me more than anything else.
As I walked away, I left the only world I had ever
known behind.
We walked in silence to the market at Montsent,
where my father and Maria were going to pick up
some things for home and hand me over to my aunt
and uncle. On the way, all that I could think of
were the good things about my village. I had never
left except to take the animals up the mountain in
spring to graze or to sneak off to the Festa Major
held every year by the four houses which made up
the next village. There were a lot of people and not
much to eat at those festivals.
I remember the three winters I went to school.
Unless you had older sisters to do all the work at
home, you didn't go to school if you were a girl.
How lucky to be one of the youngest! The teacher
made us write in big round letters with little ticks
at the end. The r started with a curl on the left
that I thought looked like a corkscrew. At school
we were never cold because Doña Paquita wasn't
going to bow to the meanness of our families -
she insisted on a good pile of wood every week
for the classroom because she said letters only go
in when they're warmed up a little, and if anyone
wants you to learn anything then they need to
show a bit of good will. She said it in Spanish
- poner un poco de buena voluntad. The little I
know, I learnt in Spanish. I have forgotten most
of it. I was amazed the first few times she spoke,
this teacher of ours who came from outside. No
one understood her. Eventually we did, and she
understood us when we talked too, although I
don't know why she pretended not to. Maybe she
was ashamed of understanding us, or did it out
of spite.
I still remember those winter classes as if I was
in one this morning. I always sat with Magdalena.
Whenever she was supposed to read aloud I
couldn't help laughing and Magdalena would stop
reading. Doña Paquita would then push back her
glasses and glare at me like a sergeant major. I'd
get a stomach ache from trying not to laugh when
Magdalena started to read again and I'd often feel
a little warm drop of pee in my knickers.
I liked going to school. It was special and made
me feel being small was good. At home you were
just a nuisance. If you played in the haystack, you
were making a mess. If you went too close to the
fire and clattered the saucepans, you'd caused God
knows what kind of calamity. If you picked up
a stone or piece of wood to play, you were going
to hit someone with it. You were only safe if you
were helping to do the milking, peeling potatoes,
or carrying firewood. That was being grown-up,
but you weren't allowed to have a sip of wine
from the porró or any bacon after you'd done
your work, because for that you weren't grown-up
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