Derecho natural

Natural Law | Seix Barral, 2017

A novel with all of the ingredients that have made  Ignacio Martínez de Pisón a name to be reckoned with on Spain’s literary scene.

“How best to sum up a life?” wonders the narrator at one point. Depending on where one places the last full stop, the account will take the form of a drama or a comedy. In the life recounted by Ángel, comedy and drama are inextricably and intimately linked, and laughter and emotion are never far apart.

Through the voice of Ángel, who will go on to study law and seek to make peace with his father, readers will gain an insight into seventies Barcelona and eighties Madrid. From a family in which instability and chaos reign supreme, Ángel is spurred on by an overwhelming urge to seek meaning in the world around him, to find some sort of order. His father, a wayward B movie actor, has an uncontrollable urge to take flight. His star appearances and disappearances leave an invisible, yet indelible mark on each of his four children. His mother, meanwhile, is a woman in love who, her faith tested too far, must draw on superhuman reserves of strength to take up the reins of her own life in a Spain that is only just beginning to look to modernity.

An account of the exploits of everyday folk, inspiring tremendous empathy with the leading characters. Written in a tone midway between comedy and tragedy, with compassion and tenderness in plentiful supply. Martínez de Pisón deftly recreates the major events of the day  through the story of the characters, bringing the atmosphere of the time to life.