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Plants Don't Drink Coffee Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 8, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Unai Elorriaga does away with the boundaries and coordinates of con- ventional literature and takes them elsewhere: to the surprising literary territory of a writer with no hang-ups. —Harkaitz Cano

Short sentences, measured words, dialogues pregnant with silences . . . all can be found in this lively narrative. It is the characters, the stories, and above all, the transparency and gracefulness of the child’s outlook that add freshness and strength to Elorriaga’s latest. —Berria

In these stories there is a psychological process, a learning curve, a pain- ful jump toward crucial knowledge. In Plants Don’t Drink Coffee that jump takes place toward the end, which helps the story glide along joyously, aided by the novel’s two main strengths: the innocent but brilliant, and almost shrewd language of the child narrator and the abundance of secondary stories. —El País

Plants Don’t Drink Coffee must be understood from a double perspective: as an approach to reality from a non-realist position and also as the practice of pure creativity. —El Mundo

This is the last book that made us cry. It made us cry with a wonderful hurt that made us remember what life was like. If you haven’t read Plants Don’t Drink Coffee by Unai Elorriaga you should run out and purchase it, and you should drag it across your eyes. Don’t put it at the bottom of a stack. Don’t make it the caboose of some glorified book-domino train. It’s set in the Basque country of Spain. It contains rugby, and dragon flies, and carpentry competitions, and old love letters looked over. We can’t tell you much else, because it would ruin the tale. Each narrative, in the four narrative split story, is packed with rose-petal scented suspense. —Dark Sky Magazine

About the Author

Unai Elorriaga was born in 1973 in Bilbao, where he is currently a professor at the Instituto Labairu. He is the author of three novels written in Basque and self-translated into Spanish, including Van’t Hoffen ilea (Van’t Hoff ’s Hair), and his 2002 debut, SPrako Tranbia (A Tram to SP), winner of Spain’s prestigious Premio Nacional de Narrativa. Elorriaga’s numerous anthologized short stories have also been widely acclaimed.

Amaia Gabantxo is a literary translator, writer, and book critic. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and newspapers, including the Times Literary Supplement and The Independent. Her translation of Anjel Lertxundi’s Perfect Happiness was released by the University of Nevada Press in 2007. Gabantxo moonlights as a flamenco singer.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago (May 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977857689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977857685
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Darryl R. Morris on May 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Unai Elorriaga (1973-) was born in the Basque region of Spain, and has worked as a translator, critic, and writer. He is currently a professor at the Instituto Labairu in Bilbao, and has published three novels, including SPrako Tranbia (A Tram in SP), which won the 2002 Premio Nacional de Narrativa, one of the most prestigious literary awards in Spain.

Plants Don't Drink Coffee was originally published as Vredaman in 2005. It was translated into English last year, and published by Archipelago Books earlier this month.

The narrator, Tomas, is a young boy who is living with his Aunt Martina while his father recuperates from illness. He adores his older cousin Iñes, who is studying entomology at university, and he desires to catch the rare and elusive blue dragonfly, as the person who catches it will be "the most intelligent person in the world".

Tomas observes his slightly off center relatives that live in Aunt Martina's home. His uncle Simon is obsessed with rugby, and engages in a plot with his friend Gur to create a rugby pitch on a private golf course. Mateo, Tomas' cousin and a skillful pilferer of library books, learns about his grandfather Julian, who competed to be the best carpenter in Europe, but no one will tell him if Julian won the event. And Piedad, an elderly friend of Aunt Martina, tells endless stories about her old lover Samuel Mud, a famed architect, whom she never marries due to a family secret.

This is a lighthearted and beautiful story of seemingly ordinary people who engage in mildly odd and surreal quests, and is definitely recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
The simplest of endeavors can spiral into an epic tale. "Plants Don't Drink Coffee" follows young Tomas and his family as their lives unfold, and tells the story of Bilbao, a region of Spain. Told in an assortment of short stories, Unia Elorriaga's narrative is expertly translated from the original Basque by Amaia Gabantxo, bringing this beautiful piece of fiction to the world stage. Any who appreciate foreign literature will very much enjoy "Plants Don't Drink Coffee".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BAC on January 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is easily one of the best books I've read in the last five years.

It's a sweet little story that'll make you cry.

Part Beckett part Lewis Carroll, it's like a children's story for your adult soul. Comparable to The Little Prince in that regard.

Everyone should read it. If you don't read it, you can't borrow my car.
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