I chose this book for my Christmas holiday reading (dark, cold nights in Brussels suburbs) by employing my favourite strategy, viz. opening it at a random page and reading one paragraph. This one:
La isla de Fuerteventura es hermosa pero reseca como el coño de las viejas. Allí me mandaron a hacer el servicio militar y allí aprendí lo que es la sed.Now that made me curious. Is there anything else he’s got to say about Fuerte?
Not much, it turned out. Inspired by Lazarillo de Tormes, the 16th century classic which I never read, this is a modern-day take on the picaresque novel. Lázaro dreams of travelling to Australia but instead goes wherever life takes him, to Barcelona, Madrid, Córdoba, Fuerteventura... I guess the story could have taken place elsewhere in Spain or beyond. Except Australia, that is. (Eventually the author grants Lázaro his wish, but, in a clever move, his adventures down under won’t commence until after we close the book.) Anyway, we don’t get to see much of Spain through the eyes of our hero — nicknamed Ojos de Lluvia, Eyes of Rain, by one of his lovers — for he is far too busy to indulge in sightseeing. Lázaro appears to be a loving and lovable boy, to the extent that prostitutes in Fuerteventura entertain him free of charge. I wonder if the author ever met her protagonist, for some of his adventures are so unbelievable they only could have occurred in real life.
I loved the language of this book. With intermediate-level Spanish, you won’t have too many problems reading it. I needed to consult the dictionary now and then though — I had no idea there were so many synonyms for prison and recreational drugs!