Nada

April 30, 2007

Nada is the first novel of Carmen Laforet, 23 at the time of publication. It was published in Spain in 1944, a few years after the Spanish civil war that left the city of Barcelona in shambles. It is not a political novel however, but a novel of humanity- humanity living on the margins.
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Nada is the story of an adolescent, Andrea, who arrives in Barcelona to live with family that she doesn’t know, hoping to continue her studies in the city. Carmen’s prose is incredible, and as always, Edith Grossman’s translation is impeccable. Andrea arrives in Barcelona-

“I began to follow – a drop in the current – the human mass that, loaded down with suitcases, was hurrying toward the exit. My luggage consisted of a large bag, extremely heavy because it was packed full of books, which I carried myself with all the strength of my youth and eager anticipation.”

The novel is written in the first person, although not what I would consider diary form. The book evokes truth to the point that it seems autobiographical, although it is strictly a novel. Andrea’s family is quite, well, crazy. They live in idleness and squalor. They endure hunger and violence. The atmosphere in their home is clouded with distrust, and there appears to be no escape for anyone. Andrea succinctly describes her loneliness-

“Life became solitary for me again. Since it seemed to be something that couldn’t be helped, I accepted it with resignation. That was when I began to realize that it is much easier to endure great setbacks than everyday petty annoyances.”

One finds oneself cheering for Andrea’s survival, for her escape. The family seems hopeless, but Andrea is hope for the future. From the mind of a twenty-three year old author through the thoughts of an 18 year Andrea, come these words-

“I thought, It’s useless to race if we always have to travel the same incomprehensible road of our personality. Some creatures were both to live, others to work, others to watch life. I had a small, miserable role as spectator. Impossible to get out of it. Impossible to free myself. A dreadful grief was the only reality for me then.”

Nada is quite worthy of your attention.

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6 Responses to “Nada


  1. This sounds really interesting. How did you find out about it? And also, do you know what else Edith Grossman has translated?
    Thanks for the review!

  2. Stefanie Says:

    This sounds really good. Edith Grossman is such a good translator.

  3. Brad Says:

    gentle reader – Edith has translated several top authors, including Marquez, Llosa, and Montero. (I’ve not read any Llosa or Montero). Her translation of Don Quixote is very highly regarded. I just stumbled on Nada on Amazon.

    Stefanie – I agree- I’ve yet to run across a poor translation by Edith.

  4. Danielle Says:

    Thanks for the review–I ordered this last night! I had heard good things about it and am looking forward to reading it. I like Grossman’s translation of Don Quixote–very readable–I was a little apprehensive at first, so Nada should be very well done, too.

  5. litlove Says:

    I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds very interesting! I read so little that’s been translated from Spanish.


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