Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Anglo-Irish academic enjoys surprise hit with novel in Spanish"

(Yet another item I found in the Guardian, by Edward Owen in Madrid.)

The novel, which has won favourable reviews, is published by Almuzara. A thinly disguised autobiography, it tears into British society, examining class, religion, loveless families, vice-ridden public [i.e., private] schools, as well as stiff upper lips and even the cricketer's googly.

By contrast the author eulogises the unfettered freedoms to be found in post-Franco Spain.

"I couldn't have published this book in English because of the hurt to my relatives and schools," Gibson said.

The 68-year-old, who has had Spanish nationality for more than 20 years, was born into a Methodist Dublin family. He graduated from the city's Trinity College and became a professor of Spanish literature at Belfast and London universities. His writing includes biographies of Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí.

Viento del Sur is the fictitious autobiography of a character named John Hill, an English linguist and academic who hates his Methodist upbringing in Cornwall and then suffers at his prep and public schools before finding fame and fortune in liberated Spain. Eventually he has to flee his paradise in Granada because it is invaded by "ghastly" Britons after his book, A Year in Andalucía, becomes a bestseller.

"What I really loathed in Britain was the snobbery, the silly way of talking, putting people down and so on," said Gibson, "I've never liked the private system, I believe in a state education."

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