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This report is taken from PN Review 31, Volume 9 Number 5, May - June 1983.

Letter from Madrid David Callahan
THE mediation of the United States and, to a lesser extent, France has brought the work of some Latin American writers to Britain, but there exists no such fortuitous circumstance by which Spanish writers are brought to our attention. Where would we be indeed without the translations supplied by American publishers? All the more refreshing then to go to Spain and discover Earthly Powers not only translated but on the best-seller lists, to find The White Hotel, John Gardner's Grendel and Ian MacEwan translated, to see street-corner kiosks in working-class areas displaying books by Malcolm Lowry, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence among others. And neither is this because there is not sufficient worthwhile local material to read; indeed-paradoxically-it reflects the obverse of the British case, an aspect of Spanish culture both unusual and unsurprising considering that the education meted out to Spaniards has been until recently even more jingoistic and self-congratulatory than that doled out to Britons; they lack sufficient confidence in their own recent productions, although no one would admit it.

At the beginning of the summer a writer in El País (the most prestigious newspaper in Spain, and the one with the highest circulation, a little more progressive than The Guardian) prepared a list of books for holiday reading. Of the sixty-six books listed only ten were by Spaniards. Similarly, any list of best-selling fiction (but not non-fiction-people like to read about themselves in such areas as history, popular sociology, gossip and the like) contains a ...


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