The Back Room

The Back Room

Book - 1983
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The winner of Spain's 1978 National Prize for Literature, Gaite's postmodern novel interweaves dreams and fantasies with autobiography and Spanish history, resulting in a book that is complex and elusive, but more than worth the effort. The main character, partially based on the author, narrates with an artful, mystifying self-reflectiveness that would be irritating in less sure hands but that works quite magically in this multi-layered tale. The plot is deceptively simple: the protagonist (also a writer) is awakened from sleep by a male journalist who ostensibly has come to interview her about her work. The author begins to muse about her past, but is interrupted by a phone call from the journalist's female companion, who becomes an integral part of the story. At the end the writer's grown daughter awakens her mother, but it is not clear whether the interview belonged to dream, fantasy, memory or reality. Several intriguing themes run throughout: multi-dimensional time and memory, the effects of the repressive Franco regime on the Spanish middle class, and the conscious, and more mysterious, aspects of the writing process. Gaite also provides an acute analysis of the theatrical performances at the heart of male/female relations, and a touching, honest, semi-autobiographical portrait. The language in this fine translation is sensual and lucid: the tastes, smells and customs of postwar Spain are vivid, and emotions, and ideas have a dream logic that is both evocative and precise. The Back Room is the first of Gaite's novels to be translated into English.
Publisher: New York : Columbia University Press, 1983
ISBN: 9780231054584
Characteristics: 210 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Lane, Helen R. - Translator


From Library Staff

Carmen Martín Gaite (1925-2000), a Spanish writer of the post civil war era, won many awards for her prose and metafictional novels, in which she explored memory and the nature of reality. "The Back Room" (El cuarto de atrás, 1978) creates a dreamlike narrative probing reality, man-woma... Read More »

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