A literary crime novel about family conflict in the Spanish countryside: breathtaking, tragic, sensuous and magical.
Marcelino lives alone on his parents’ farm, set deep in the beautiful but impoverished reaches of northern Spain. It’s the place where he grew up, the place where he doted on his baby brother, the place where he protected his mother from their father’s drunken rages. But when Marcelino’s brother tricks him out of his house and land, a moment of anger sparks a chain of events that can’t be reversed. Marcelino flees to the wild peaks of rural Asturias, becoming a cult hero as he evades the authorities. Into this, author Manuel Astur interweaves family tales and fables about the sun and the moon, of death and love, and offers glimpses into the lives of other villagers and the history of their community. Astur’s poetic language and seamless blend of lyricism with the grotesque renders this book a treasure for the reader. Of Saints and Miracles is a sensuous portrayal of an outcast’s struggle to survive in a chaotic world of both tragedy and magical splendor.
"This is a fierce, passionate book—at home in every genre because it knows that great fiction does not need to choose between them. Manuel Astur's writing moves between high lyricism and hard, stony realism, and Of Saints and Miracles has a style all of its own. Thanks to Claire Wadie's rigorous yet resourceful translation, this essential Spanish novel, with its compelling characters, histories and landscapes, is available to the anglophone reader in all its magic, tenderness and brutality."
—Patrick McGuinness, author of Throw Me to the Wolves and The Last Hundred Days
"This is the tale of a natural loner of immense gifts and vision—like Coetzee's Michael K—and is unlike any book I've read, by an author who seems enviably free: to stretch the limits of genres by blending fable and crime fiction; to tell a story at his own pace, in exquisite detail and from a rich choral perspective ... It's an extraordinary feat of writing, as is Claire Wadie's impeccable translation."
—Sophie Hughes, translator of Hurricane Season and Paradais by Fernanda Melchor
"This literary novel has the seal of determined originality, and is the admirable work of an author worth following."
"The author is calling out to a society that has lost its sense of direction, and the pages of his book trace a path back to innocence. I cannot describe the beauty of his prose without spoiling it."
"With a sensuous style that produces an almost physical effect, Astur plays with time, land and violence to weave together a plot that finds its logic in chaos like every real tragedy."
"Brutality and derision mixed with tenderness and innocence ... It's all a miracle."
"Melancholic and somewhat unnerving ... A beautiful book."
—European Literature Network