It is the summer of 1936, the early months of the agonising civil war that engulfs Spain and shakes the rest of the world. In a prison in the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela, an artist sketches the famous porch of the cathedral, the Portico da Gloria. He uses a carpenter’s pencil. But instead of reproducing the sculptured faces of the prophets and elders, he draws the faces of his fellow Republican prisoners.
Many years later in post-Franco Spain, a survivor of that period, Doctor Daniel da Barca, returns from exile to his native Galicia, and the threads of past memories begin to be woven together. This poetic and moving novel conveys the horror and savagery of the tragedy that divided Spain, and the experiences of the men and women who lived through it. Yet in the process, it also relates one of the most beautiful love stories imaginable.
I learnt more about the Spanish Civil War from The Carpenter's Pencil...than from any history book I've read -- Gunter Grass He is an important storyteller because he is sensitive and he has an incredible ear, which, in his fiction, is allied to great ingenuity -- John Berger A startling novel. I have rarely read a piece of writing so poetic * Daily Telegraph *
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