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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sin Noticias de Gurb (No Word from Gurb)

Sin noticias de GurbSin noticias de Gurb by Eduardo Mendoza

This is one of those books that you could kick yourself for not thinking of the idea first. It is the captain's log sent by an extraterrestrial who comes to earth, takes on human form(s), and dryly narrates what he discovers about life here on earth—or at least life in Barcelona. Upon landing in Barcelona the unnamed leader sends his underling, Gurb, out to explore the terrain. Gurb immediately goes AWOL and most of the book concerns the leader’s search for his partner as it takes two beings to drive their spaceship. While looking for Gurb the leader comments on dozens and dozens of aspects of life in this corner of the world.

No hay en toda la Tierra gente más aficionada al trabajo que los catalanes. Si supieran hacer algo, se harían los amos del mundo.

No one on earth enjoys work more than Catalonians. If they knew how to do something they would rule the world.

The author completely predicted the problems of Barcelona's bike share program (Bicing) as every day hundreds of bikes leave the upper reaches of the city and have to be trucked back every evening. And who among us wouldn't eat a couple of kilos of churros every day if we didn't have to worry about our waistlines?

It is laugh-out-loud funny in many, many parts and even more so if you happen to be something of an outsider yourself but have been in Spain just long enough to recognize some of the more absurd aspects of modern Spanish/Catalán society. There is a little bit of Gurb in anyone who has ever lived in another country.

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