Plants Don't Drink Coffee
"I read Unai Elorriaga's latest novel almost without stopping to breathe. Breathlessly, yes, but not quickly, because Elorriaga's books are not the kind you read in two or three hours and put back on the shelf. It is a very good novel. Incredibly good."--Gorka Bereziartua
"Plants Don't Drink Coffee" achieves a graceful balance between playfulness (in both language and character) and depth of emotion and thought. Unai Elorriaga gives voice to unassuming characters, to "small" people with "small" lives; he magnifies things that often go unnoticed. Four stories narrated from different perspectives crisscross throughout the novel. In the first-person, the young Tomas--who wants above all else to be intelligent--tells us why it is so important for him to catch a blue dragonfly and introduces his extended (and eccentric) family to us one by one. We observe the surrealist creation of a rugby field on a golf course, unravel the mystery of why a couple of forty years never married, and delve into the intrigue surrounding a European carpentry competition that Tomas' grandfather had taken part in. "Vredaman "is teaming with dreamers, free spirits, and nonconformists who follow their inner voices. Beneath the novel's lighthearted and balletic ways lies a gentle wisdom, a lucid vision of human emotion.
Unai Elorriaga's first novel, "A Streetcar to SP," won Spain's prestigious National Narrative Prize in 2002. The jury was taken by the freshness of his voice and by how utterly unique the book was. Elorriaga is the most celebrated young Basque author in the Spanish literary landscape. Although influenced by Julio CortAzar and Juan Rulfo, Elorriaga stands alone in both the inventiveness of his narrative and in the particular way his characters reveal their humanity. Elorriaga is truly breaking new ground.
Amaia Gabantxo is a literary translator, writer, and reviewer. Her work has appeared in many journals and newspapers, including "The""Times Literary Supplement" and "The Independent," as well as in "An Anthology of Basque Short Stories" and "Spain: A Traveler's Literary Companion" (Whereabouts Press). Her translation of Anjel Lertxundi's "Perfect Happiness" is forthcoming.
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