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Nada: A Novel (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – February 12, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent novel. I didn't read the previously translated version but I recommend this one. It is very well written and I can understand all the critical acclaim.Published 2 months ago by bookmagic
This product was the best and is highly recommended to be purchased. Please go out and get it just for a good read if not for school.Published 20 months ago by Shelton Rankin
The best book written in Spain during the Franco era. A kind of gothic coming of age story of an 18 year old orphaned young woman who comes to live with her grandmother, uncles and... Read morePublished 22 months ago by mary knuth
I read this for my Spanish class and was really enchanted with this edition. I am now a big fan of Laforet's work and want to read more Spanish literature.Published 24 months ago by TJM
The book came exactly as described/pictured. I needed this book for a class, and it came within the time I needed it by.Published on May 26, 2014 by pearlgirl917
Bought this for a class I was taking and ended up dropping the class. Anybody want to buy a book?Published on November 9, 2012 by Kelly Kelly