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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top novel set in Gerona
It is the 1970s – Franco has recently died, and everything in Spain is changing. Gerona is not an especially attractive place. Yes, there are leafy suburbs – but there are also run down areas and a sleazy red light district. A lot of juvenile crime… Ignacio Cañas (Gafitas to his few friends), a middle class kid, is bullied at school and does not...
Published 10 months ago by TripFiction

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Best avoided
Don't on any account spend money on this book. I read this in Spanish when it came out and it's painfully drab. In fact it's like listening to an extended crime-caper daydream by an unimaginative eight-year-old. God knows how I got to the end - sheer bloodymindedness probably.
Published 6 months ago by Thorycroft


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Best avoided, 25 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Outlaws (Hardcover)
Don't on any account spend money on this book. I read this in Spanish when it came out and it's painfully drab. In fact it's like listening to an extended crime-caper daydream by an unimaginative eight-year-old. God knows how I got to the end - sheer bloodymindedness probably.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Writer has lost his touch, 2 Dec. 2014
By 
Mr. Geoffrey Noble (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Outlaws (Hardcover)
Cercas has gone down the tube.
Three excellent books of fiction, followed by a laboured non-fiction book followed by this tedious effort.
Found the style jarring and never have I been less interested in the central characters.
Used to be a writer I looked out for, now is one to avoid
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top novel set in Gerona, 17 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Outlaws (Hardcover)
It is the 1970s – Franco has recently died, and everything in Spain is changing. Gerona is not an especially attractive place. Yes, there are leafy suburbs – but there are also run down areas and a sleazy red light district. A lot of juvenile crime… Ignacio Cañas (Gafitas to his few friends), a middle class kid, is bullied at school and does not get on well with his parents. He is inveigled into joining a gang run by super cool Zarco, largely through his infatuation with Tere – who may, or may not, be Zarco’s girl. They need him to be a respectable look out and distraction for the gang. They steal cars and rob banks. In their final robbery, Zarco is wounded, and Gafitas escapes. He is tracked down and spared by a young policeman called Cuenca – who possibly feels that imprisoning him would make him into the hardened criminal that he is not.

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Fast forward 30 years… Cañas is a successful criminal lawyer and has moved back to a gentrified Gerona, his summer of protest long since behind him. He is passing friendly with Cuenca (though neither acknowledges the past that brought them together). Zarco has acquired cult status – in and out of most prisons in Spain with books and films portraying his life. Tere re-enters Cañas’ life – visiting his office and asking him to take on Zarco as a client, with a view to commuting his various sentences to run concurrently and then getting him released on license. He accepts, and starts the process by organising Zarco’s move back to a Gerona prison to serve his time in his home city. Cañas picks up where he left off with Tere – passionately, but secretively. The relationship between Cañas and Zarco is a complex one – with Zarco pulling most of the strings and Cañas worried that Zarco thinks he was the one who tipped off the police to their final bank raid 30 years before. They also have Tere in common.

Zarco, although in prison, alternates between taking heroin and methadone – his mood much better when on the latter. Cañas though comes to the conclusion that, after 30 years, Zarco is heavily institutionalised and, while he professes he wants his freedom, he is in fact very scared of the outside world – a view supported by the prison Governor. Eventually Zarco falls ill – and hopes of any possible release fade as he fades.

The story is told through interviews with Cañas, Cuenca, and the prison Governor – as recorded by a mysterious author writing the history of Zarco’s life. At first I though the device might be an irritant, but it works well, and adds a sort of rawness and perspective to events.

In TripFiction terms, the book is set entirely in Gerona – but in two quite different eras, 30 years apart. The Gerona of the 1970s is a somewhat seedy place – but that of the 2000s is quite different. Perhaps best typified by the fact that Cañas’ 2000s flat is situated in the now gentrified red light district just a few yards from the Le Font bar where the gang used to meet in the 70s.

Outlaws is a good and serious work exploring post Franco and modern Spain. It is very well written and very well translated by Anne McLean. A worthy successor to Cercas’ other books on modern Spanish history.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 July 2014
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This review is from: Outlaws (Paperback)
Exactly as described and good value
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