Javier Cercas probes Spain’s convoluted history

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The Impostor. By Javier Cercas. Translated by Frank Wynne. MacLehose Press; 432 pages; £20.

AS MINISTERS in Madrid and nationalists in Catalonia swap rival narratives, events in Spain confirm, as Javier Cercas writes, that “the past is merely a dimension of the present.” No Spanish writer has probed the unhealed wounds of the country’s history with more subtlety and rigour than Mr Cercas. In the wake of his prize-winning book, “Soldiers of Salamis” (2001) and “The Anatomy of a Moment” (2009), he returns to the Spanish civil war and its disputed aftermath in another “strange novel-without-fiction”, as he calls it, a true story that even the most fanciful yarn-spinner would blush to invent.

Its subject is Enric Marco: an actual person, now close to 100. In the 1980s, as newly democratic Spain began to recover its public memory of civil war and dictatorship, this Catalan trade unionist emerged as the charismatic spokesman for Spanish survivors of deportation to…Continue reading

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