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Plants Don't Drink Coffeeby Unai Elorriaga
Synopses & Reviews
“I read Unai Elorriaga’s latest novel almost without stopping to breathe. Breathlessly, yes, but not quickly, because Elorriaga’s books are not the kind you read in two or three hours and put back on the shelf. It is a very good novel. Incredibly good.”—Gorka Bereziartua
Plants Don't Drink Coffee achieves a graceful balance between playfulness (in both language and character) and depth of emotion and thought. Unai Elorriaga gives voice to unassuming characters, to “small” people with “small” lives; he magnifies things that often go unnoticed. Four stories narrated from different perspectives crisscross throughout the novel. In the first-person, the young Tomas—who wants above all else to be intelligent—tells us why it is so important for him to catch a blue dragonfly and introduces his extended (and eccentric) family to us one by one. We observe the surrealist creation of a rugby field on a golf course, unravel the mystery of why a couple of forty years never married, and delve into the intrigue surrounding a European carpentry competition that Tomas’ grandfather had taken part in. Vredaman is teaming with dreamers, free spirits, and nonconformists who follow their inner voices. Beneath the novel’s lighthearted and balletic ways lies a gentle wisdom, a lucid vision of human emotion.
Unai Elorriaga’s first novel, A Streetcar to SP,won Spain’s prestigious National Narrative Prize in 2002. The jury was taken by the freshness of his voice and by how utterly unique the book was. Elorriaga is the most celebrated young Basque author in the Spanish literary landscape. Although influenced by Julio Cortázar and Juan Rulfo, Elorriaga stands alone in both the inventiveness of his narrative and in the particular way his characters reveal their humanity. Elorriaga is truly breaking new ground.
Amaia Gabantxo is a literary translator, writer, and reviewer. Her work has appeared in many journals and newspapers, including TheTimes Literary Supplement and The Independent, as well as in An Anthology of Basque Short Stories and Spain: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press). Her translation of Anjel Lertxundi’s Perfect Happiness is forthcoming.
Weaving the invisible with the unspeakable, a young Basque boy lets us into his private world.
Four stories narrated from four different perspectives crisscross throughout this poignant and playful novel. Young Tomas - who wants above all else to be intelligent - embarks upon a dizzying search for a rare blue dragonfly, of which he believes there are only nine or ten in the world (and therefore probably only two or three in his town). Drawing us into the channels of his mercurial mind, skipping through misadventures and stumbling upon a host of small wonders, we are introduced to three generations of his motley family tree and accompany them on their odd quests. From the moonlit creation of a rugby field on a golf course, to the unearthing of the escapades of his anarchist grandfather, a celebrated carpenter, the medley of tales flips on their heads standard assumptions about age, wisdom, sensibility, and truth, inviting us to open our eyes to the bounty of tiny marvels that make up our world.
About the Author
Unai Elorriaga (1973 - ) won the prestigious Spanish Premio Nacional de Narrativa in 2002 for his first novel, SP rako tranbia (A tram to SP). He is also the author of the novel Van't Hoffen ilea (Van't Hoff's Hair) and numerous anthologized short stories. He currently works as a translator and professor at the Instituto Labairu de Bilbao. Gabantxo is a literary translator, writer and reviewer. Her work appears in many journals and newspapers, including the Times Literary Supplement and The Independent, as well as in An Anthology of Basque Short Stories (University of Nevada) and Spain: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press). Her translation of Lertxundi's Perfect Happiness is forthcoming from University of Nevada Press.
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