Order for £15.29 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Review: All is Silence, By Manuel Rivas. Harvill Secker, £16.99
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Galicia, in Spain, is both one of the most remote of Western Europe's regions, and cosmopolitan, with its economic emigrants sending news across the oceans.
Manuel Rivas (born 1957), its best-known contemporary writer, has written mainly of the Civil War, particularly in his beautiful The Carpenter's Pencil (1998) and Books Burn Badly (2006). All is Silence is set later, the first part in the 1960s and then the 1980s, and focuses on how local criminals control a coastal town, where smuggling is the only employment apart from meagre and dangerous fishing. It is still a relevant theme at a time when the head of the Galician government is under pressure because of his past friendship with a convicted drug smuggler.
It opens with three troubled children: two boys, rough Brinco and softer Fins, and barefoot Leda, the fearless girl who draws the boys along the beaches, where everything from coffins to oranges have tipped overboard from the ships steaming through the wild seas. When the children discover a hidden cache of whisky, the town's crime boss, Mariscal, finds them and teaches them the lesson that rules the coast: mouths are not for talking, but keeping silent, just as eyes and ears are not for seeing or hearing. Mariscal, impeccable in white suit and gloves, believes he can purchase everyone's complicity. As the Franco dictatorship ends, the relatively harmless smuggling of cigarettes and whisky turns to cocaine, with its international alliances, huge money – and murders.
Rivas takes us inside the minds of villagers, fishermen, the inn-keeper, the children's parents, the priest, and women up to their waists in water picking cockles off the rocks. He narrates, too, from the vantage point of the police tracking Mariscal's gang. All is Silence, though, is a thriller whose aims are dual; one intellectual, to show how corruption can take over a society, and one emotional, to follow the development of the three children. Rivas, ably translated here by Jonathan Dunne, combines a lyric gift, full of rich imagery and a touch of fantasy, with bald, direct prose.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Catwoman comes out as bisexual
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Grace Dent on TV: Mary Portas: Secret Shopper delves into a grim cornucopia of retail wrongness
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts