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Nada: A Novel (Modern Library) Hardcover – February 6, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679643451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643456
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Available in English for the first time in the U.S., Laforet's moody and sepulchral debut novel, a 1945 Spanish cult classic, has been given new life by acclaimed translator Grossman. The story follows 18-year-old Andrea as she spends a year with crazy relatives in a squalid, ramshackle townhouse on Calle de Aribau in post-Civil War Barcelona. Although Andrea is young, she isn't adventurous or carefree like others her age, and much of the action takes place within her extended family's dank flat or along the melancholic city streets immediately surrounding it. But the narrative is no less interesting because of this, as it leaves plenty of room for the larger-than-life characters that occupy the house to fully flex their gross vitality and charming decrepitude. The violent Uncle Juan and his manic wife, Aunt Gloria; the crusty, devilish, magnetic violinist, Uncle Román; insanely embittered Aunt Angustias; and an oblivious, antiquated grandmother each offer up their own chaotic storylines, while perfectly balancing Andrea's stoic, ruminative personality. To compliment their frenetic vignettes, Andrea's narration is gorgeously expressive, rippling with emotion and meaning. U.S.-bound fans of European lit will welcome this Spanish Gothic to the States with open arms and a half-exasperated, "What took you so long?"
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Nada is a novel of Spain—and of the difficult transition to adulthood. Critics agree that it is a remarkable achievement for so young a voice at the time and one of the best novels written during the Franco regime. Mario Vargas Llosa notes in his introduction that Nada never overtly refers to the Fascist victory, yet "politics weighs on the entire story like an ominous silence." Still, Andrea's grim experiences—from navigating the bizarre terrain of her relatives to brokering friendships and sexual relationships—are far from humorless. Brilliant characterizations, poetic prose, and a clear and sophisticated voice ring true in Edith Grossman's excellent translation. The Los Angeles Times sums up general sentiment: "Nada a coming-of-age novel, but it's also a work of genius, small but indelible."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. M. Teale on April 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
The setting is around 1941-42, after the Spanish Civil War, when Spain is not involved in World War II but feeling the claustrophobic and repressive aftermath of their national implosion. Other readers will have told you the plot of this novel, but the grand metaphor you need to know about Nada is that Andrea arrives in Barcelona at midnight, and the following year leaves in broad daylight. What joy!

The setting might be Barcelona, Spain, but there is something alarmingly universal about a girl's attempt to overcome the limitations of her family and discover who she is through university-level study. How does a young woman create herself under adverse circumstances? (It's a kind of third-world story that also happens in the so-called first-world.) Early in the novel, Andrea's Aunt Angustias notes that Andrea went to a sort of high school run by nuns, but that it was in a village (one assumes where scholarly achievement was not expected); and we learn that the Barcelona home of her grandmother (with miserable aunt and uncles) is her only chance of creating herself, of attending a university, and escaping through studying literature. In the course of the year, Andrea must navigate some extremely uncomfortable emotions; she loses her best friend, Ena (but finds her again, later). Boyfriends elude her. The irony of all such novels is that it's the horrible family who gives the author the story (in which case there are no villains, only fellow victims). This notion is fully realized in her often vile Uncle Roman, who plays the violin so poignantly that you can hear it in Laforet's words, Grossman's elegant translation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joyce L. Tompsett on October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure I'd like this book at first as so many reviews I'd found called it despondent, sad, etc. I found the book to have sad parts, and yet I found it moving and I liked the heroine for not getting corrupted by all the things surrounding her. I wasn't saddened by the book nor did it depress me. In fact I actually liked the ending and thought it brought closure in a neat way but not an American way with artifice and quaintness.

I don't give many books 5 stars. Most that I really like get 4. Yet there was something about this book that merited this response. I am sad that more young people do not read this book. Then again, I find that Spanish history isn't covered very much in American schools. More English/French and then later Germany/Russia, but not Iberia. Perhaps that has something to do with it.

If I had read this when I was younger I suspect it would have been one of those books I kept rereading growing up. As it is, I will reread it again at some point.

I also agree with others that this book captures the feel of Barcelona. If you like this, try Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

I always wonder what else people read when they love/hate books because I wonder if I would agree with their review or not. Sometimes the things that lead people to give a book a good score would lower its score in my eyes or vice versa. So in that spirit, here's a bit about my reading habits to help you sort that out - I read a lot of European and Asian literature. I don't like most things that make the US Bestseller lists. I do love good mysteries for fun, and some speculative literature. I don't watch much tv.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Aldworth on November 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. I wrote my Master's Thesis on Spanish Literature on this book. I have read it 3 times and each time I find myself going deeper and deeper into the psychological journey towards adulthood for Andrea.
I truly hope you will enjoy this book as much as I have. I find myself wanting to read it again. I would also recommend 'el arbol de la ciencia' by Pio Baroja.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. Dawson on August 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Nada is a coming-of-age novel about an 18-year-old orphan, Andrea, who moves from the Spanish countryside to Barcelona to live with her hyper-religious aunt, abusive uncles, and confused grandmother. Although Andrea has escaped her provincial background, the once-grand house of her relatives is now dirty and decaying. In the post-Civil-War Barcelona of the 1940s, food is scarce, and Andrea's relatives spend most of their time bickering and beating each other or chastising Andrea.

Nada is bleak, but Andrea's cool, somewhat detached first-person narrative makes the dark situation more bearable. Edith Grossman's translation vividly evokes the beauty and mystery of Barcelona, along with its decrepitude. More than the flesh-and-blood characters in this novel, Barcelona is a living, breathing force. This is an enjoyable read, particularly for those interested in Barcelona and its history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Carmen Laforet wrote with a quiet beauty. Not really poetic, just an understated elegance. Even the more dramatic or violent scenes have a quieter feeling than you'd expect. Quite impressive for a woman who was in her early twenties when she wrote this book.

The story is said to be somewhat autobiographical. Andrea, aged eighteen, goes to live with her grandmother, aunts, and uncles in Barcelona so she can attend the university. The family lives in greatly reduced circumstances after the Spanish Civil War and the death of the family patriarch. In his intro, Mario Vargas Llosa calls this story a "detailed autopsy of a girl imprisoned in a hungry, half-crazed family on Calle de Aribau." That pretty much sums up the story, although I'd say some of the family members have progressed beyond half-crazed to full-blown madness.
There are secrets revealed and high drama closer to the end of the book, but mostly it is about Andrea's attempts to escape from the loony bin she's living in by walking the streets of Barcelona and spending time with her friends from the university.

This edition is a new translation by Edith Grossman. I am really falling in love with her translation skills. Some translations have a stilted feeling, but Grossman's just flow so smoothly and beautifully.
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