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Irene Solà

(ES) Irene Solà (c) Oscar Holloway

Irene Solà (born in Malla, near Barcelona, in 1990) has a degree in fine arts from the University of Barcelona and a master’s in literature, film and visual culture from the University of Sussex. Her first book of poems, Bèstia (Galerada, 2012), was awarded the Amadeu Oller Poetry Prize and has been translated into English (as Beast, Shearsman Books, 2017). Her first novel, Els dics (The Dams, L’Altra Editorial, 2018), won the Documenta prize and was awarded a grant for literary creation by the Catalan Department of Culture. In 2018, she was a resident writer at the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center of George Mason University (Virginia, United States) and in late 2019 she was selected to participate in the Art Omi: Writers Ledig House programme (New York). In 2019, she was awarded the Premi Llibres Anagrama de Novel·la for Canto jo i la muntanya balla (I Sing and the Mountain Dances). The same year, she also received the Núvol Prize, and the Cálamo Prize for the Spanish edition of the book. 

 

  • EUPL Year: 
    2020
  • EUPL Country: 

Winning Book

Canto jo i la muntanya balla

Starting with the death of a farmer caused by lightning, the novel tells a set of stories, in which reality and fiction overlap, about the inhabitants of a mountainous area between Camprodon and Prats de Molló, two villages in the Pyrenees. Stories about mythical beings like water women, about war, about the survival of humans and wild animals, about fanaticism... but also about beauty and goodness. A narrative that emulates that of great authors of Catalan literature such as Víctor Català or Mercè Rodoreda, with an evocative and poetic style.

(ES) Canto jo i la muntanya balla

Publishing House

Address: 

Pedró de la Creu, 58, Barcelona, B, Spain

Email Address: 
Phone No.: 
+34 932 037 652
Organisation: 
Editorial Anagrama

Translation Deals

  • Italy: Blackie Edizioni
  • US: Graywolf
  • UK: Granta
  • France: Seuil
  • Galician: Kalandraka
  • Basque: Alberdania
  • Hungary: Magveto
  • Croatia: Vukovic & Runjic
  • Macedonia: Tri
  • Serbia: Heliks
  • Bulgaria: Colibri

Excerpt

Canto jo i la muntanya balla - Irene Solà - Language: Catalan

EL LLAMP

Vam arribar amb les panxes plenes. Doloroses. Els ventres negres, carregats d’aigua fosca i freda i de llamps i de trons. Veníem del mar i d’altres muntanyes, i ves a sa­ber de quins llocs més, i ves a saber què havíem vist. Ras­càvem la pedra dalt dels cims, com sal, perquè no hi bro­tessin ni les males herbes. Triàvem el color de les carenes i dels camps, i la brillantor dels rius i dels ulls que miren enlaire. Quan ens van llambregar, les bèsties salvatgines es van arraulir caus endintre i van arronsar el coll i van aixe­car el musell, per sentir l’olor de terra molla que s’apropa­va. Els vam tapar a tots com una manta. Als roures i als boixos i als bedolls i als avets. Xsssssst. I tots plegats van fer silenci, perquè érem un sostre sever que decidia sobre la tranquil·litat i la felicitat de tenir l’esperit sec.

Després de l’arribada, i de la quietud, i de la pressió, i d’arraconar l’aire fi ben avall, vam disparar el primer llamp. Bang! Com un descans. I els cargols cargolats van estremir-se dins de les seves solitàries cases, sense cap déu ni cap pregària, sabent que si no morien ofegats, sortirien, redimits, a respirar la mullena. I aleshores vam vessar l’ai­gua a gotes immenses, com monedes sobre la terra i l’herba i les pedres, i el tro escruixidor va ressonar dins les cavi­tats toràciques de totes les bèsties. Va ser llavors, que l’home va dir cago’n seuna. Ho va dir en veu alta, perquè quan hom està sol no fa falta pensar en silenci. Cago’n seuna, inútil, que t’has deixat atrapar pel temporal. I no­saltres vam riure, uh, uh, uh, uh, mentre li mullàvem el cap, i la nostra aigua se li ficava coll de la camisa endintre, i li resseguia l’espatlla i els lloms, i eren fredes i desperta­ven el mal humor, les nostres gotetes.

L’home venia d’una casa d’allà a la vora, enfilada a mitja carena, sobre un riu que devia ser fred perquè s’amagava sota els arbres. Hi havia deixat dues vaques, un grapat de porcs i de gallines i un gos i dos gats desarrelats, una dona i dues criatures i un vell. Es deia Domènec. I tenia un hort ufanós a mitja muntanya i unes terres mal llaurades vora el riu, perquè l’hort l’hi treballava el vell, que era son pare i que tenia l’esquena plana com una taula, i les terres les llau­rava ell. Hi havia vingut a provar versos, en Domènec, cap a aquest voral de muntanya. Per veure quin gust i quin so te­nien, i perquè quan hom està sol no fa falta dir versos en veu baixa. I havia trobat un grapat de trompetes de la mort fora de temporada, aquella tarda, tot anant a guaitar el bes­tiar, i les duia embolicades a la panxa de la camisa. La cria­tura de braços plorava quan havia deixat la casa, i la dona havia dit «Domènec», com una queixa i com una súplica, i en Domènec havia sortit igualment. És difícil de fer versos i de contemplar la virtut que s’amaga dins de totes les coses, quan els nens ploren amb aquella estridència de garrí escor­xat que t’accelera el cor encara que no ho vulguis. I volia anar a mirar les vaques. Havia d’anar a mirar les vaques. Què hi entenia la Sió, de vaques? Res. El vedell feia maaaaaaaaaaa, maaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Desesperat. No en sabia res, la Sió, de vaques. I va tornar a exclamar, cago’n seuna!, perquè havíem sigut ràpids, caram, imprevisibles i sigil·losos, i l’havíem atrapat. Cago’n seuna!, perquè el vedell tenia la cua enganxada a un manyoc de filferros. Els filferros s’ha­vien encallat entre dos arbres, i de les estrebades li havien es­bocinat el darrere de les cames, que ara li lluïen ensangonats, oberts i bruts. Feia maaaaaaaaaaa, maaaaaaaaaaa, atrapat per la cua entre els dos arbres, i la seva mare el vetllava intran­quil·la. En Domènec sota el xàfec va enfilar cap a la bèstia. Tenia unes cames ben fetes de tan trescar muntanya amunt a respirar aire quan els nens cridaven massa, o quan pesaven massa, i pesava massa l’arada, i el silenci del vell, i totes les paraules, una darrere l’altra, de la dona, que es deia Sió, i que era de Camprodon, i que s’havia ben deixat enredar perquè l’havien pujat sola dalt d’aquella muntanya amb un home que s’escapava i un vell que no parlava. I mira que a vegades en Domènec l’estimava i l’estimava fort, a la Sió, encara. Però pesava tant, cago’n Déu i Satanàs, la casa. Hau­ria de tenir més temps de coneixe’s, la gent, abans de ca­sar-se. Més temps de viure abans de fer criatures. A vegades encara l’agafava per la cintura i li feia donar voltes, una dar­rere l’altra, com quan festejaven, perquè la Sió, Déu, la Sió, quines cames! Va deixar les trompetes a terra. El vedell bra­mulava. En Domènec s’hi va acostar amb les dues mans a davant. A poc a poc. Dient coses amb una veu greu i aman­sidora. Xssst, xssst, feia. La mare el sotjava desconfiada. Els cabells d’en Domènec regalimaven. Quan arribés a casa s’hauria de fer escalfar aigua per rentar-se el fred i la pluja. Es va mirar els ferros que esgarrinxaven les potes de l’animal cada vegada que estrebava. Li va agafar la cua amb fermesa, va treure la navalla i va tallar amb habilitat el pèl nuat. I aleshores vam deixar caure el segon llamp. Ràpid com una serp. Enfadat. Obert com una teranyina. Els llamps van on volen, com l’aigua i les allaus i els insectes petits i les garses, que tot el que és bonic i el que brilla els hi omple l’ull. La navalla fora de la butxaca d’en Domènec va brillar com un tresor, com una pedra preciosa, com un grapat de monedes. La fulla de metall ens va emmirallar, polida. Com uns bra­ços oberts, com una crida. Els llamps es fiquen on volen, i el segon llamp es va ficar dins del cap d’en Domènec. Endin­tre, endintre, fins al cor. I tot el que veia dins dels ulls era negre, de la cremada. L’home es va desplomar sobre l’herba, i el prat li va posar la galta contra la seva, i totes les nostres aigües esverades i contentes se li van ficar per dintre les mà­nigues de la camisa, per sota el cinturó, dins dels calçotets i els mitjons, buscant la pell encara seca. I es va morir. I la vaca va marxar esperitada, i el vedell va córrer darrere seu.

Les quatre dones que ho van veure van acostar-s’hi. A poc a poc. Perquè no estaven acostumades a sentir inte­rès per la manera com mor la gent. Ni interès pels homes atractius. Ni interès pels homes lletjos. Però l’escena havia sigut ullprenedora. Havia fet una llum tan clara, tot ple­gat, que no hauria fet falta veure-s’hi mai més. El ganivet havia cridat el llamp, i el llamp blanc havia encertat com una diana el cap de l’home, li havia fet la ratlla al mig dels cabells, i les vaques havien fugit esperitades com en una comèdia. S’hauria hagut d’escriure una cançó sobre els ca­bells de l’home i la pinta del llamp. S’hauria pogut posar perles als cabells, a la cançó, blanques com la resplendor del ganivet. I dir coses del seu cos, i dels llavis oberts, i dels ulls clars com un got on la pluja es ficava. I del rostre tan bonic per fora i tan cremat per dintre. I de l’aigua que li queia com una torrentera sobre el pit i darrere l’esquena, com si se’l volgués endur. I de les seves mans, hauria par­lat la cançó, curtes i gruixudes i calloses, una d’oberta com una flor que veu venir l’abella, l’altra agafada a la navalla com una roca que s’ha ficat dins d’un arbre.

Una de les dones, la que es deia Margarida, li va tocar una mà, mig per saber si l’home cremava amb el llamp a dintre, mig només per la carícia. Llavors, quan les dones el van deixar estar i van collir les trompetes de la mort xopes que l’home havia abandonat, i van donar per vista l’esce­na, perquè hi havia moltes altres coses a fer, i moltes altres coses a pensar; com si ens haguéssim encomanat de la seva satisfacció i de la feina feta, vam deixar de ploure. Sadolls. Espassats. I quan va ser segur que havíem parat del tot, els ocells van saltironejar fins al centre de les branques i van cantar la cançó dels supervivents, amb l’estómac petit ple de mosquits, estarrufats i plens de fúria en contra nostra. Poc tenien per queixar-se si no havíem ni pedregat, si ha­víem plogut el temps just de matar un home i un grapat de cargols. Si amb prou feines havíem fet caure cap niu i no havíem inundat cap camp.

Aleshores ens vam replegar. Extenuats. I ens vam mi­rar l’obra feta. Les fulles i les branques gotejaven, i nosal­tres vam anar, vacus i laxos, cap a una altra banda.

Una vegada vam ploure granotes i una altra vegada vam ploure peixos. Però el millor és pedregar. Les pedres precioses es precipiten sobre els pobles i els cranis i els to­màquets. Rodones i congelades. I omplen els marges i els caminals d’un tresor de glaç. Les granotes van caure com una maledicció. Els homes i les dones corrien, i les grano­tes, que eren molt i molt petites, s’amagaven. Ai, las. Els peixos van caure com una benedicció sobre els caps dels homes i les dones, com bufetades, i la gent reia i els aixeca­va enlaire com si ens els volgués tornar, però no ho volien, ni nosaltres tampoc els hauríem volgut. Les granotes rau­quen dins dels ventres. Els peixos deixen de moure’s però no es moren. Però tant li fa. El millor de tot és pedregar.

Translated Excerpt

I sing and the moutain dances - Irene Solà - Translation by Mara Faye Lethem

THE LIGHTNING BOLT 

We arrived with full bellies. Painfully full. Black bellies, bur-dened with cold dark water, lightning bolts and thunderclaps. We came from the sea and from other mountains, and from un-thinkable places, and we’d seen unthinkable things. We scratched the rock atop the peaks, like salt, so not even weeds would sprout there. We chose the color of the crests and the fields, and the gleam of the rivers and in the eyes looking upward. When the wild beasts caught sight of us, they huddled deep in their caves and crimped their necks and lifted their snouts, to catch the scent of damp earth approaching. We covered them all like a blanket. The oak and the boxwood and the birch and the fir. Shhhhhhh. And they all went silent, because we were a stern ceiling and we decided who would have the tranquility and joy of a dry soul. 

After our arrival came the stillness, and the pressure, and we forced the thin air down to bedrock, then let loose the first thun-derclap. Bang! Like a reprieve. And the coiled snails shuddered in their secluded homes, godless and without a prayer, knowing that if they didn’t drown they would emerge redeemed to breathe the dampness in. And then we poured water out in colossal drops, like coins onto the earth and the grass and the stones, and the as-tounding thunderclap resounded inside the chest cavities of every beast. And that was when the man said damn and blast. He said it aloud, because when a man is alone there’s no need to think in silence. Damn and blast, you had to go get caught in a storm. And we laughed, huh, huh, huh, huh, as we dampened his head, and our water slunk into his collar, and slid down his shoulder and the small of his back. Our drops were cold and made him cross.

The man came from a house not far off, halfway up to the crest, by a river that must have been cold because it hid beneath the trees. There he’d left behind two cows, a bunch of pigs and hens, a dog and two roving cats, an old man, and a wife and two kids. Domènec was this man’s name. And he had a lush garden patch at mid mountain and some poorly plowed fields beside the river, because the patch was tended by the old man — his father, with a back flat as a board — and Domènec plowed the fields. Domènec had come to reel off his verses, over on this side of the mountain. To see what flavor and what sound they had, because when a man is alone there’s no need to whisper. And that evening he’d found a fistful of early black chanterelles, when he checked on the herd, and he carried the mushrooms wrapped in the belly of his shirt. The baby cried when he left the house, and his wife said “Domènec” as if protesting, as if pleading, and Domènec went out anyway. It’s hard to create verses and contemplate the virtue hidden inside all things, when the kids are crying with the shrillness of a flayed piglet that makes your heart race despite your best efforts to keep calm. And he wanted to go out and look at the cows. He had to go out and look at the cows. What did Sió understand about cows? Nothing. The calf went maaaaaaaaaaa, maaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Desperately. Sió knew nothing about cows. And again he cried out, damn and blast!, because we’d crept up quickly, hell yeah, unreli-able and stealthy, and we’d trapped him. Damn and blast!, because the calf’s tail was stuck in a jumble of wires. The wires had gotten lodged between two trees, and what with all the pulling the back of the calf’s legs were shredded and gleamed bloody, open, and dirty. It went maaaaaaaaaaa, maaaaaaaaaaa, trapped by the tail between the two trees, and its mother guarded over him restlessly. Amid the downpour Domènec climbed over to the animal. His legs were good and strong from barreling up the mountain to take in some air when the kids were yelling too much, or when they weighed too heavy on him, and the plowing weighed too heavy on him, and the old man’s silence, and all the words, one after the other, from his wife, who was called Sió, and who was from Camprodon, and who’d gotten herself into a fine fix, agreeing to go up there to that mountaintop with a man who slipped away and an old man who never spoke. And sure sometimes Domènec loved her, loved her fiercely, still. But what a weight, for the ever-lov-ing love of God and Satan, how that house weighed! Folks should have more time to get to know each other before they marry. More time to live before making children. Sometimes he grabbed her by the waist and spun her around, round and round, like when they were courting, because Sió, oh Sió, lord have mercy, those legs! He dropped the chanterelles. The calf lowed. Domènec ap-proached the animal, leading with both his hands. Slowly, step by step. Saying things in a deep, quieting voice. Ssssh, ssshh, he said. Its mother watched him warily. Domènec’s hair was stream-ing water. When he got home he’d have her heat up some water to wash off the cold and the rain. He looked at the wire that cut into the calf’s legs every time it struggled. He grabbed its tail firmly, pulled out his knife and deftly cut its knotted switch. And then we let loose the second thunderbolt. Quick as a snake. Angry. Open like a spider web. Lightning goes where it wants to, like water and landslides and little insects and magpies, transfixed by all things pretty and shiny. The knife was out of Domènec’s pocket and it gleamed like a treasure, like a precious stone, like a fistful of coins. The metal blade, polished mirror, reflected us back. Like open arms, calling us out. Lightning goes where it will, and the second bolt went into Domènec’s head. Deep, deep down inside, to his heart. And everything he saw inside his eyes was black, from the burn. The man collapsed on the grass, and the meadow placed its cheek against his, and all our giddy, happy waters moved into him through his shirtsleeves, beneath his belt, into his underwear and socks, searching for still dry skin. And he died. And the cow took off in a frenzy, and the calf followed after.

The four women who’d seen, approached him. Bit by bit. Be-cause they weren’t used to feeling an interest in how people die. Or an interest in attractive men. Or ugly men, for that matter. But the scene had been captivating. The light so bright and clear that it was enough for a lifetime of seeing. The knife had called to the lightning, the white lightning had hit the man’s head like a bull’s-eye, it had parted his hair right down the middle, and the cows had fled in a frenzy, like in some comedy. Someone should have written a song about the man’s hair and the lightning comb. Put-ting pearls in his hair, in the song, white like the gleam off the knife. And say something about his body, and his open lips, and his light eyes like a cup filling up with rain. And about his face, so lovely on the outside and so burned on the inside. And about the torrential water that fell on his chest and rushed beneath his back, as if it wanted to carry him off. And about his hands, the song would have spoken, stumpy and thick and calloused, one open like a flower expecting a bee, the other gripping the knife like a rock swallowed by tree roots. 

One of the women, the one named Margarida, touched his hand, partly to find out if the man was burning with the thunder-bolt inside him, and partly just for the caress. Then the women left him be and gathered up the soaking wet black chanterelles he’d dropped, and abandoned the scene, because they had many other things to do, and many other things to think about. Then it was as if their satisfaction was contagious, and we stopped rain-ing. Sated. Dispersed. And when it was clear we were done, the birds hopped out to the middle of the branches and sang the song of the survivors, their little stomachs filled with mosquitoes, bristling and furious with us. They had little to complain about as we hadn’t even hailed, we had rained just enough to kill a man and a handful of snails. We’d barely knocked down a single nest and we hadn’t flooded a single field.

Then we retreated. Dog-tired. And we looked at our work. Leaves and branches dripped, and we headed off, vacant and slack, somewhere else.

Once we rained frogs and another time we rained fish. But best of all is the hail. Precious hailstones fall on towns and skulls and tomatoes. Round and frozen. Covering terraced walls and paths with icy treasure. The frogs fell like a plague. The men and women ran, and the frogs, who were eensy teensy, hid. Alas. The fish fell like a blessing on the men and women’s heads, like slaps, and the people laughed and lifted the fish up in the air as if they wanted to give them back to us, but they didn’t want to and we wouldn’t have wanted them back anyway. The frogs croak inside our bellies. The fish stop moving but don’t die. But whatever. Best of all are the hailstorms. 

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