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The Muleby Juan Eslava Galan
Synopses & Reviews
Critically acclaimed throughout Spain, and now available for the first time in English, this tender, satirical novel vividly captures the intrinsic absurdity of war—and the joys of true friendship in a place where it is difficult to distinguish man from beast.
Juan Castro Pérez is a simple muleteer caught in the brutal Spanish Civil War. Never far from his closest companion—a stray mule named Valentina whom he is determined to keep for himself after the war—Juan engages in the low-brow drinking escapades, long shots at love, and an otherwise droning existence shared by his compatriots.
As he lies, cheats, and steals to protect Valentina during his improbable odyssey home, Juan unwittingly “fights” for both sides—and becomes a reluctant and unlikely hero of the people, exploited by opportunistic journalists desperately trying to convince the Spanish public that the war is under control, when it is anything but….
"This light Spanish Civil War story follows the romantic and military misadventures of a perennially put-upon muleteer stuck fighting for a cause he doesn't believe in. Juan Castro Prez stumbles on a stray mule (he names her Valentina) and smuggles her into his army regiment; his plan is to bring her to his family once the war is over. Though Castro sympathizes with the nationalist forces, his region is solidly Communist and he's forced to enlist on that side, where he, like many of his comrades, does his utmost to avoid combat and get back home; one of his more engaging exploits involves wooing a pensioner's daughter. He eventually defects to the nationalists, and when Castro and Valentina inadvertently cross paths with a group of Communist soldiers, an unarmed Castro thinks he's doomed until the soldiers order him at gunpoint to take them prisoner so they can survive the war. A journalist catches wind of the incident and twists the story into a morale-boosting puff piece that turns Castro into a poster boy for Franco's cause. Castro's dedication to Valentina provides the heartfelt through line to this winsome war story and adds a dose of heartbreak at the novel's close." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Juan Eslava Galán was born in Andalusia, Spain, in 1948. He is the author of more than fifty books, and winner of the Planeta Award for En Busca del Unicornia. He lives in Seville.
Lisa Dillman is the translator of over a half dozen book-length works of literature, history, and pedagogy. She is best known for her translation of Gioconda Bellis The Scroll of Seduction. Dillman is a professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University in Atlanta. She lives in Decatur, Georgia.
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