My Father's Enemy by Almudena Grandes Review

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Police officer – this is the profession that exerts the Ninos father and he also places his nine-year-old son to his heart, he still provides a secure and lucrative career. But Nino will not take this route. To the chagrin of his father, he is growing very slowly (one therefore calls him “tot”) and is likely to fail to meet the conditions of admission. But above all, gaining Nino insights into the practices and functions of the profession, which will deter him forever.

Because the scene is a small Andalusian mountain village near Jaén, and there are the years 1947 to 1949 . the second world war may be over, but here in Spain there is still the fascist regime of dictator Francisco Franco, and the police – the Civil Guard – is entirely at his service. In order to secure Franco’s power, it has a lot to do here in the Sierra. In the mountains to keep his opponents hidden: Trailer of the fallen in the Civil War (1936-1939) Republic, Democrats, Communists, anarchists, rebels and partisans, all together the simple image of the enemy subsumed referred to as “the Reds”, here gather strength and ideas planning militant actions.

Nino, the narrator, lives with his family in the Guardia Civil army barracks de Fuensanta Martos. If it is at night in his bed, he hears what is happening on the other side of the wall: tumultuous noise, shrill cries of pain battered body hit against walls, fall to the ground. Then his little sister Pepa cuddles (4) full of fear into his bed; it was just a movie, soothes the brother, and together they sing against the horror.

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What the children perceive is not for children. It is the suffering of prisoners; it is torture, rape, shootings, carried out by criminals in uniform, carrying the father and many is hated in the country. The father is one of those raids perform in the village, “arrest neighbors and handcuffed by the road leading” those who move out into the mountains to resistance fighters in their caves to track down and shoot as possible on the run from behind. For that Nino hates his father; he never wants to be a, and he will never go to Civil Guard . “race cars … or how Pepe, the Portuguese live”

Nino wants. Pepe is 29 and has just rented the mill, there to take care of the olive trees. Since the village children do not like to play with Nino, who prefer the man turns to. Really smart, he will not, however, and secretive closed from his new friend, because Pepe is something. He claims, for example, hardly read and write, but Nino has watched through the window as he reads a book.

father and his colleague interested in Pepe. They see him as well as all others who live outside the village, every week and ask him whether he had observed on the trails to the mountains conspicuous – “marks or changes, remains of campfires.” One suspects namely that “Cencerro” very entertain a base near. “Cencerro” ( “cowbell”) was actually the nickname of revered popularly freedom fighter Tomás Villén Roldán, who had escaped by suicide recently his captors. But now take bold guerrillas in the mountains the symbolic name to be live on the more powerful around the hero and his ideas. Last “Cencerro” had robbed a mayor all the way to Robin Hood Art in the street, gave away a small part of the booty to a poor and now spreads signed bills ( “So pay Cencerro”) to make the regime funny.

Not only in the tavern feel any hostile feelings against Civil Guard . The villagers cover the “Reds” ( “hill and valley breathing in the same bar, the same air”) and thus give them a certain degree of security for their operations. At night it attracts the men even from their hiding places down to their wives in the villages. If one of them becomes pregnant, mention all iron. At some point, one must always fear, the moment will come when a bill for all the bitter antics pay needs.

Pepe opens Nino, which he always treated respectfully, a hitherto unfamiliar world. The boy learns what appreciation, partnership, solidarity and trust mean and that “worry … the surest sign of friendship and affection was”; the man is Nino orientation, and right from wrong and what is worth living for.

Similarly large proportion of Ninos maturation has his teacher Doña Elena. Do not taught him only in typewriting and shorthand, but brings to light a great treasure: their library. therefore Nino excited mainly for Jules Verne’s adventure novels (the original title ” El lector de Julio Verne ” Almudena Grandes” El lector de Julio Verne “in”.

Almudena Grandes’ novel “the enemy of my father”, like the author explains in a postscript, historical figures as background. This real targets it has expanded but strong and very elaborated wide. we read the one hand, an adventure novel – the story of an outcast rebel that no one gets hold of, although a bounty has been exposed to it other hand, it is a coming of age novel -. a preadolescent boy learns what life is. However, the main concern of the author, who was named in their homeland, according to standard press release as “militant muse” of the left, the political and historical examination of the still barely worked up in Spain Franco era, di e only came to an end with the death of the dictator in the year 1975th For their bitter accusation and the clarification of the cruel and criminal methods in the name of Franco, it focuses the action on a straightforward, really idyllic village and reduces the perspective on the sensitive, talented boy: “It was in my village, where you each night could surreptitiously be shot because they had given to his child, his father, his brother something to eat. ”

Despite these conceptual limitation succeeds Almudena Grandes, a differentiated scenario. Because it does not conceal the underlying evil in the community, the denunciations of traitors, the tacit help of cooperators. They are no less shocking and reprehensible as the visibly actions of those in power and their executive organs. Some of them suffer from the pressure of having to execute commands, because they and their families otherwise threaten worst reprisals. From such inner conflict, a person you would never have expected her role as hidden operating the opposite side freed in a dramatic way. The subsequent burial with full honors – a ceremony in which the power structure does not disappoint – freezes one to ice.

“My father’s enemy” is a deeply moving novel full of strong feelings ( “A whole world. full of love and hate, pain and resentment, weakness and strength, despair, belief, faith and revenge, “the mother of a dead man) is reflected in the fossilized eyes.. (Has Roberto de Hollanda translated from Spanish) Almudena Grandes’ Language is powerful, complex and rich. Beautiful poetic passages ( “whistled from the mountains a fine, cruel wind, as bright as glass”) let us stop reading; some pain or shame outright, for example, as Ninos mother the boy in the bitterly cold winters gives a hot water bottle for school – a bubble-deposit bottle wrapped in a self-made bag -. and his, he also can not put into words “wild happiness”.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the fullness of the outstretched episodes and the variety of characters with their names, including examples and nickname (from the author’s own admission carefully authentic designs) along with the most complex sentence structure concentrated reading require.


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My Father's Enemy by Almudena Grandes Review. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved from

My Father's Enemy by Almudena Grandes Review
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