Even in a great reading year like this one, I think this is going to be the book of the year for me. And gosh, the unfairness! Houllebecq writes Submission and everybody knows about it, everybody has read it, it’s a huge big deal. Gutiérrez writes on the same topic, but he’s actually talented, so his novel has artistic value. And does anybody know about it? Nope.
Spanish is obviously more widely spoken than French or German but absolutely genius writers in Spanish are completely unknown outside of their countries when any half-assed scribbler in those other languages is blown up like a balloon.
Gutiérrez is an extremely talented writer* and he writes about the really important stuff: the lost generation of Europeans who can’t recover from the crisis, the mass migration of Muslims to Europe and the fear it creates, the cluelessness of the rich “liberal neoliberals,” the contempt of Northern Europeans for countries of southern Europe, the incapacity of Europeans to reproduce and their slow self-immolation, the terror of women who find themselves in the Muslim ghettos of big European cities**, and also about the only thing that can save and redeem Europeans (which I won’t reveal to preserve the suspense). It’s also the most feminist novel I have read in years.
Most importantly, though, it’s very very talented.
If you decide to read it, please remember: you’ve got to read it as a metaphor. You’ll get a lot more out of it this way.
Gutiérrez is young for a writer (he’s 2 years younger than me), and he’s been growing artistically like you have no idea. I first read him in 2012, and he’s on a whole different level now.
I really, really hope I don’t start obsessing over this novel to the point where I decide to write about it because my publication calendar is filled until late 2021.
*And a very good person, which is very rare among the artistically gifted. I met him in person last year, and he’s emphatically not a jerk.
** People who want to get sore over this point should try being female and spending some time in those neighborhoods. I have, so I speak from experience when I say that the writer’s description of how this messes with one’s head is spot-on.