The Dedalus Book of Spanish Fantasy is an ambitious and wide-ranging collection of texts from the middle of the 19th century to the present day, by authors writing in Castilian, Basque, Catalan and Gallego. Only two of the stories have appeared in translation before and while some authors (Goytisolo, Atxaga, Mendoza and Javias Maria) might be known to an English-reading public, most authors have never previously been translated into English.The stories have been selected to give the reader that frisson that one expects from the truly fantastic: from fabulous creatures and ghost stories to doppelgangers and time travel metamorphoses. The anthology is enriched by a wide variety of settings, characters, situations, themes and narrative modes which combine to produce one of the most important collections of Spanish Literature to appear in English.
Margaret Jull Costa has translated the works of many Spanish and Portuguese writers. She won the Portuguese Translation Prize for The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa in 1992 and for The Word Tree by Teolinda Gersao in 2012, and her translations of Eca de Queiroz's novels The Relic (1996) and The City and the Mountains (2009) were shortlisted for the prize; with Javier Marias, she won the 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for A Heart So White, and, in 2000, she won the Weidenfeld Translation Prize for Jose Saramago's All the Names. In 2008 she won the Pen Book-of-the Month-Club Translation Prize and The Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize for The Maias by Eca de Queiroz.
If possible, I'd give this a three-and-a-half star rating.
An interesting book. The stories were arranged alphabetically by the author's last name which didn't give me a sense of the historical development of fantasy in Spain, the way "The Dedalus Book of Greek Fantasy" did for fantasy in Greece. Indeed, most of the stories seemed to come from the post-Franco era, so perhaps there is no long term "historical development" but a "sudden blooming"?
A number of the stories were very short. I enjoyed reading them, but the concepts for a lot of the stories seemed pretty basic and familiar ("vanishing hitchhiker," premature burial, return from the grave) because you can't get a complicated concept developed in less than five pages. Also, a number of stories dealt with parents being cruel to their children.
The standout story for me was "No News from Gurb" by Eduardo Mendoza. This was a very funny science fiction story about a clueless alien on earth. I laughed out loud several times.
A small missing boy is taken for a white boar in a series of letters. Shy Arturo gathers up courage to dance with a girl, offers her his raincoat at the end of the dance only for the raincoat to travel far and wide in time. An officer falls in love with a stone statue of a woman, although her husband, also a statue next to her, does not agree. A murderer takes the life of a merchant before death herself can get him. A general is defeated, or is he? A couple take a suspicious walk with a supernatural turn. A bandaged hand cannot work if you cannot open it up. Eulalia hears her husband calling from the mountains as he dies. Twenty years later her daughter of twenty is dating a familiar face. A theif who lays bleeding is taken in only to be denied. A woman walks into a Happy birthday party from hell. An abstract dream occurs from abstract thought. The little girl only wanted wings. Bieito is buried alive by a funeral goer. Unwanted nasty little kittens are killed physically, yet are still alive mentally. Foulmouth digs a grave for a live man. A mysterious face appears during a dinner party. A Moroccan man's wife does not return from France, so he turns himself into a Stork to find out why. A man at carnival aims for the moon with a pistol. A Mother almost drives her son into madness. Gualta finds he has a doppelganger working with him, yet they both begin to change. Gurb the alien is lost on Earth. A student falls for Marissa, neglecting his studies only to find her with a different boy. Berta makes company with a stranger on a business trip without her husband and does not want to go home. Two dope smokers analyze the Boston strangler. Armand's family tradition is cutting fingers off. A beetle transforms into a plump boy. A man walks people's destiny's out of church and straight to grave digging. A dead woman temporarily re-joins her family. A Holocanth Tree walks and kills. A ship goes down and the surviver finds himself inside a whale. A soldier escapes a bombing when he should be in his barracks. A man's soul is a lizard, but his body remains. Ghost stories and religion collide. The final story is a surrealist's tale of electricity.