Fiction by Rafael Chirbes
Translated by Valerie Miles
Along the Mediterranean coastline of Spain, real-estate developers scramble to transform the once pastoral landscape into tourist resorts, nightclubs, and beachfront properties with lavish bars and pools. The booming post-Franco years have left everything up for grabs. Cremation opens with the death of Matías, a paterfamilias who had rejected all of these changes and whose passing sets off a chain reaction, uncovering a past that had been buried for years, and leading those closest to him to question the paths they’ve chosen.
In a rich mosaic narrative, filled with a hypnotic chorus of voices, Cremation explores the coked-up champagne fizz of luxurious parties shadowed by underworlds of political corruption, prostitution, and ruthless financial speculation. The novel enters that melancholy ouroboros of capitalist greed that led to the financial crash and captures something essential about our values, our choices, and our all too human mistakes. Like William Faulkner or Francis Bacon, Chirbes stares, clear-eyed, into the abyss, and portrays us as we really are.