These are the best novels I’ve ever read in

The end of the year comes and the friendships and sympathies of the publishing world are substantiated and made visible through an infallible tool: the lists of the best books of the year.

The more friends, the better your book was. The fact that so many names are repeated year after year in these recounts only means that you have writers friends to not read all those writers who are not your friends, with the advantage that talking well about a book even if you did not like it will make in the future the other speak well of your book even if you have not read it.

These celestineos of the publishing world are of all life, do not have major importance and no one will ever end with them. Another thing is that I point them out and abhor them and, on some Tuesdays, I feel morally superior to all the writers, to all the readers and, indeed, to all the living beings.

The year 2018 left me with great literary moments and a unique holiday misfortune: I will never be able to return to Lo Pagán again. I don’t know if it’s worth writing these articles if I can’t go on vacation to Lo Pagán. In any case, I will always carry you in my heart if, for whatever reason, I am able to find it.

The best books published in were ‘Ordesa’ (Alfaguara), by Manuel Vilas, and ‘Feliz final’ (Seix Barral), by Isaac Rosa. They are the ones who have honestly impressed me the most.

It is interesting to see how all the technique, the originality, the knowledge of a trade and the argumentative imagination are second division before a book that simply matters to its own author. What we read in Rosa and Vilas is so intravenous that it would be exciting even with spelling mistakes and bad glueing. These are not books that happen very often, my friends.

Then there are the others, which were many and wonderful, and it has been worth paying Netflix and HBO and, nevertheless, reading some nights.

Without boring them

It saddens me sometimes not to tell them about a book because it doesn’t give me enough for jokes. This is what happened to ‘Cabezas Cortadas’ (Seix Barral), by Pablo Gutiérrez, which I read with great pleasure, but I didn’t know how to tell them without boring them. Pablo Gutiérrez is from the Spanish prose school that I like, and here he gets I don’t know if his best book, dosed with metaphors regarding ‘Nada es crucial’ (Rag Language), but the most direct and imperative.

I have also read without telling you ‘El don de la fiebre‘ (Seix Barral), by Mario Cuenca Sandoval, who writes beautifully on the European side; and ‘Filek’ (Seix Barral), by Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, who does not write beautifully but tells curious things.

It saddens me sometimes not to tell them about a book because it doesn’t give me the jokes.

After discovering the genius of Jenny Offill’s ‘Speculation Department’, I now trust anything in Asteroid Books that looks snobby: that’s how I got to Rachel Cusk, officially the world’s best writer while you’re reading it. Prestigio’ came out this year, ‘Tránsito’ a little earlier, and ‘A contraluz’ first.

Extraordinary. Joan Didion in ‘Río revuelto’ (Gatopardo), and barely 30 years when he signed it, has also been a gift. Of the Spanish women I already pondered ‘Honrarás a tu padre y a tu madre’, by Cristina Fallarás, ‘Umbra’ (Trojan Horse), by Silvia Terrón, or the newspapers ‘Todos llevan máscara’, by Laura Freixas, and the biography ‘Concepción Arenal’, by Anna Caballé.

To these we must add Gema Nieto’s second novel, ‘Haz memoria’ (Two Whiskers), with purifying prose; and, curiously, ‘Amor fou’ (Anagram), by Marta Sanz, which seems to be a reedition like that of the fool and it turns out that it is Marta Sanz’s book that I liked the most. “I am a man convinced that turning on the television tonight and watching the match can alter the result. Since 2004 this text has been going through various editorial vicissitudes.

A Chinese Christmas tree

At the beginning of the year, a very humble little book came out that is going to last precisely because it seems little: ‘Among them’ (Anagram), by Richard Ford. After telling us about his mother, the author tells us about his father 30 years later and puts them together in a definitive volume. Among them’ is like one of those plastic Christmas trees you buy in Chinese: despite how little it costs, and how simple it is, it makes Christmas.

Miguel Ángel Hernández also told us about his intimacy in ‘El dolor de los demás’ (Anagrama), with enough power within the already very visible autofiction derived from ‘El adversario’; Andrés Neuman made in ‘Fractura’ an ecological warrant and Rafael Reig gave refuge in the pages of ‘Para morir iguales’ (Tusquets) to the hospicianos of Franco’s regime.

Confident comrades Juan Soto Ivars, Víctor Lenore and Ramón González Férriz also published a book, so that they can see the time they are wasting reading their comments in this medium.

Eugenio Fuentes’ essay ‘La hoguera de los inocentes’ (Tusquets) helped me to think about the current persecution (see Morgan Freeman does nothing) with substance and calm, and Gabriel Zaid published a very juicy compilation of his explorations of the language in ‘Mil palabras’ (Debate).

That’s where this concept comes from: “María Moliner confirmed that a single person working at home can do more and better than an institutional team”. A phrase that goes for Andrés Trapiello, who publishes ‘El Rastro’ and then the newspapers and then a novel and prepares a book about Madrid without you knowing how long you have for so much good prose.

Nor did I tell them here about Rubén Martín Giráldez and his corrosive and baroque ‘Por qué la literatura experimental amenaza con destruir la edición, a Jonathan Franzen y la vida como la conocemos’ (Jekyll & Jill), a volume armed with the things that a certain Marcus says and the things that Giráldez himself says: controversial and funny both. Nor of ‘Siamés’ (Marmara), by the most depressing crazy Swede Stig Saeterbakken. Nor of ‘Votos’ (La Caja Books), a powerful conjugal monologue by Iván Repila.