A beautiful, brutal novel about the Spanish Civil War, Mazurka for Two Dead Men is the culmination of Camilo José Cela’s literary art. At the beginning of the war in 1936, Lionheart Gamuzo is savagely murdered. In 1939, as the war ends, his brother avenges his death. For both deaths, the blind accordion player plays the same mazurka. Set in backward rural Galicia, Cela’s novel portrays a reign of fools, and works like contrapuntal music, its themes calling and responding, alternately visceral, melancholy, funny, lyrical, and coarse.
Camilo José Cela was a significant contributor to 20th century Spanish Literature.
Cela is the Goya of Franco’s Spain.
— Paul West
There is a secret slot for Cela at his best, as one of the great prose stylists, plural, of Spain — a man dangerously like us.
— Roberto Bolaño
Cela never forgets that the mazurka is a dance. He writes with gusto about that fundamental two-step of human existence: sex and death.
— Los Angeles Times
The definitive novel of how the Spanish Civil War was actually experienced by ordinary people.
His most mesmerizing fiction, about life during the first four decades of the twentieth century, a life so brutal that the Spanish Civil War, when it occurs, seems a mere continuation of the ordinary. A fiendishly haunting story.
— The New York Times
…the excellence of Mazurka for Two Dead Men should at least serve as a reminder that among the many Spanish-speaking countries, Spain is still a source of powerful literature.