October 8, 2014
NOSTALGIC for the old days? Well, maybe not, after reading David Baird’s latest novel. The author vividly captures the atmosphere of the so-called Pearl of the Orient thanks to his years working in Hong Kong as a journalist — both when it was a British colony and later when it returned to Chinese rule.
From the first lines of Typhoon Season, you’ll find yourself on a roller-coaster ride, encountering a body floating in the South China Sea, a missing heroin stash, a doomed love affair, corruption in high places…
After years away Clive Spillman is returning to Hong Kong. Memories flood back as not-so-heroic hero Clive Spillman reflects : “A crazy time to visit. The air would be as thick as soup, the humidity overpowering.”
Even as the Cathay Paciﬁc Jumbo banked over the South China Sea for the approach, he wasn’t sure why he was returning…. Read the rest of this entry »
July 27, 2014
WANDER along the seafront of a certain lesser-known Spanish resort and you will find a phallic-looking structure bearing a small plaque.
It honours a penniless youth whose writings helped put the town, Almuñecar in Granada province, on the tourist map.
“Laurie Lee? Who he?” Spanish visitors may ask.
But in his native England Lee is a celebrity — and this year the centenary of his birth has been celebrated with special events and the publishing of new editions of his books. Read the rest of this entry »
March 22, 2014
DECADES after Spain tore itself apart in a civil war the pain lingers on. The Ley de la Memoria Histórica, a recently enacted law, aims to heal some of the old wounds but has only succeeded in exacerbating the fierce debate.
Passions are still fierce, not just about the war itself but about the repression that followed during the long years of dictatorship. The country has yet to come to terms with events that occurred more than 50 years ago, not least those of a desperate guerrilla conflict which raged in the 1940s.
Thus, Between Two Fires — Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras could not be more timely. This important book throws fresh light on a struggle which — thanks to strict censorship — went largely unreported both in Spain or in the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
February 15, 2014
SILENCE is not just golden. It is a commodity they don’t make any more. Noise has become inescapable.
Climb the highest mountain and you will be buzzed by lowflying aircraft, find the loneliest beach and sound systems or speedboats will shatter the calm, plunge into Alpine wilderness and snowmobile hooligans will assault your solitude.
Spain is the perfect place to study noise because it has so much of it. In fact, the Spanish press frequently reminds readers – with a touch of pride? – that after Japan this is the world’s noisiest country. Read the rest of this entry »
August 4, 2013
EVERYBODY remembers the first time they stepped on to Spanish soil. Dazzling light, dramatic landscapes, colourful personalities, pungent smells…they make an impact on the most travel-jaded.
You may be exhilarated or exasperated, enthralled or appalled, but you cannot remain indifferent, for this is a land which invites extreme emotions.
However, my first visit contradicted all the stereotypes for I came away convinced that the rain in Spain fell mostly on green, misty hills inhabited by short, broad people who wore large berets and carried black umbrellas everywhere. This impression arose from a day trip from France to San Sebastian. Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2013
Between Two Fires — Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, a poignant account of how a village was trapped in a brutal conflict for years after the Civil War, has been setting sales records in the United States.
Since it became available in the Lightning Source edition, which can be ordered through Amazon online, it has been selling steadily to American readers keen to know more about this forgotten war — a war which went virtually unreported due to strict censorship.
The book has won critical praise from across the world. “As exciting as any thriller yet deeply moving, it deserves to be read by everyone concerned with the history of contemporary Spain,”says historian Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Civil War and Franco – A Biography. Read the rest of this entry »
May 12, 2013
CITY FOLK ARE A FUNNY LOT. When they take a trip to the countryside, they tend to adopt a superior attitude towards the rustic bumpkins while betraying their general ignorance regarding all about them.
They smile with pleasure at the sight of the lambs gambolling about the fields, conveniently forgetting that soon those cute animals will be slaughtered to satisfy their appetites. Their delicate urban nostrils sniff with disgust at such basic farming odours as manure spread over the fields.
That does not fit their idea of the simple life, i.e. a deodorized dream of bucolic paradise. Sadly that paradise never existed. And as for the “simple life”, that can be just a little complicated.
As the “hero” of David Baird’s latest book, Don’t Miss The Fiesta!, a thriller with macabre touches set in a Spanish village, discovers to his cost. Read the rest of this entry »