Humour in Spanish fiction: extracts from Nicolás Casariego and Pedro Zarraluki

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Spanish novelists Nicolás Casariego and Pedro Zarraluki will join us at the Bookshop on Thursday 20 November to discuss the role of humour in contemporary Spanish fiction. Ahead of their visit, here's a brief taste of their writing, taken from the novels The History of Silence and Anton Mallick Wants to be Happy.


"Is silence bearable? Is there such a thing as silence or is it just an accumulation of distant sounds? Which do we find more nerve- racking: noise or the absence of noise? On the other hand, haven’t we all at some point or another been forced to remain silent? Who did so out of self-interest, out of weakness or perversion? Who has saved and who condemned others by his or her silence? Can one spend a whole lifetime waiting for a question to be answered? Does absolute silence, the silence of God, really exist, or is it simply a metaphor for ignorance? Can silence be bottomless, as deep as a well? Can one feel comfortable inside a well? Why isn’t absolute silence described as something boundless, like the calm, empty spaces of the universe? Can silence be methodical without seeming artificial? Have you ever been to a wake? Isn’t it true that the only ones who behave naturally at a wake are the dear departed because they are so damned silent? On the other hand, is hearing nothing from a loved one for twenty years the most unbearable type of silence? Why do we wait patiently but not eternally for a simple word that would put an end to our pain? Why do we say that someone broke the silence instead of freeing the silence or calming it, which would be very poetic and would prevent that ringing in our ears we find so annoying? Why do we say someone is the silent type, as if they went through life on tiptoes, when in fact that person simply doesn’t talk much? Is talking the most deliberate way to break the silence? Why does silence seem awkward at dinner parties and not on mountaintops? What happens at those rare dinner parties that are held on a mountaintop? How can keeping silent be the noblest and the most despicable act when what is being kept is exactly the same thing? Why don’t you say something? You’re letting me do all the talking."


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