The Carpenter's Pencil [O Lapis do Carpinteiro], by Manuel Rivas was chosen to be the first book to represent at the European Book Club the Galician Literature one of the three minority languages spoken in Spain besides Spanish. The book has been published in Galician in 1998 and is the most widely translated work in the history of Galician literature. This book wan some important national and international prizes.
The story of this book is a love story in a war time, but tell us about the relationship between a prision guard, Herbal, and a physician, Dr. Daniel Da Barca, during the Spanish Civil War in Galicia. Dr. Da Barca is imprisoned because of his anti-fascist ideas and has fallen in love with Marisa Mallo, a daughter of a family who sympathize with Franco’s regime. At the beginning Herbal, a soldier and suporter of Franco’s regime, who was also in love with Marisa, is jealous of the doctor. He has appropriated himself the pencil of a carpenter that has belonged to a Republican painter executed in the prison. Because of the magic qualities of the pencil his character begins to change. A magnificent and interesting literary work with an element of the mysterious.
The Guardian (01/28/2001): Choosing to write in a minority language is in itself a political act, asserting a commitment to identity and cultural heritage. […] The Carpenter's Pencil is a strange and haunting novel, seamlessly translated (by Jonathan Dunne), a sincere and beautiful portrait of a brutal, ugly period of Spanish history.
Mark Thwaite (09/19/2004): Rivas' story is slight but the telling is magisterial, the depth utterly honest, his touch unerringly light, the resonances of his writing wide and the characterisation vivid: prose this poetic and this devoid of sentiment is as rare as it is breathtaking.
Manuel Rivas was born in A Coruña, Galicia, Northwest Spain, in 1957. He is a Galician writer, poet and journalist. He began his career as journalist very early and collaborated later with prestigious and recognized Galician and Spanish newspapers. He is the most well known contemporary author writing in Galician and is considered a revolutionary. He is strongly and deeply involved with the Galician people, his history, language and culture. In general Rivas is an activist in political, social, national and international organizations. Some of his work has been as well adapted to the cinema.
The moderator of this session was Dr. Alejandro Alonso Nogueira, Professor at the NYC-Graduate Center for Spanish and Galician Literature.
For more information about the European Book Club, visit http://europeanbookclub.org/