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Sandra Bruna Literary Agency


Author: Sandra Bruna Thursday 15 March 2018

This week, social media has become an ocean filled with fishes swimming. Little fishes looking for Gabriel, the missing boy from Almería. These last few days we’ve been keeping an eye on this story, which, unfortunately has not had the end all of us were wishing for. My heart breaks whenever I think how it must feel to lose a child, I cannot picture it in my mind. There is nothing worse that could possibly happen, and I really do admire his parents, that in this extreme situation have asked for peace, not hate. Kids are life, there is nothing bad in their essence, hence why they should never suffer, they do not deserve it. No one should ever suffer, neither the adults nor the kids. We should be able to live fearlessly, happily, joyfully in a better world. A world we are fully responsible of, and we should teach the new generations to create it always humbly, honestly and far away from violence.

This is why, when reading Empar Fernández’s IRINA, I was able to also feel that “pain”. A pain some kids were exposed from 1937 to 1939 when they had to escape the Spanish Civil War. Many of which were fostered in cold Russia. They had to begin over new, adapt to a new world which was about to change, again, because of the explosion of World War II. They would have to suffer again. They would be exposed, once more, to pain, to suffering, to being alone. They had to overcome whatever they were exposed to, they had no other choice. Irina’s story traps you, hits you, breaks you, you just cannot ignore it. It is a piece of history from an eight years old girl’s perspective, through her eyes. She is aware she has to go on with her life, on her own, besides living in a cruel and unfair world. A world which also grants her a home, a place to stay, although it is not how she would like it to be. Irina is one of those characters which stays in the reader’s mind forever, as Gabriel’s smile, which we will never forget. I wish we could live in an ocean filled of nice little fishes swimming to find happiness, to reach peace. A clear sea in which hate did not exist and union, friendship and the will to build a better world, ruled. As in Irina’s times although some kids were never able to reach the deserved peaceful destiny. IRINA is such an amazing novel. Empar, as always, has been able to smartly build a story. A vibrating story. A story that dives into the deep end.


Author: Sandra Bruna Thursday 26 October 2017

I’m lucky enough that I get to work with something I love, to live surrounded by books, and to try and get the stories that reach me, these exciting, moving, deep stories, reach other people too. Quite often I think it is too big a responsibility, because not all styles are the same, not everyone thinks the same, not everyone makes us vibrate the same. But there is a common denominator to assess, in some way, what we believe must be published and, surely we are wrong many times, both for good and bad, but only consciously making mistakes let’s learn. I just hope that this time, with the work of Empar Fernandez, HOTEL LUTECIA, I’m not mistaken, because reading it we fell in love with the story and how it was told. Especially how it was told, because when reading there are times when I got goose bumps, moments when I could not help feeling the anguish of the characters that await in that hotel news of their families, and moments in the that I could not help thinking that I hope historical moments that only brought terror and violence do not repeat themselves. To avoid them, we must avoid falling into a gray past, where repression imposition and authoritarianism led to one of the worst epochs of our history.

The Lutecia Hotel in Paris, which is currently closed for renovation, was a luxurious Art Deco hotel where some famous writers stayed, but it also had a darker era when it became the headquarter of the Nazi General State. Later on, it was turned into an center for survivors of concentration camps. It is in this hotel that Andreu Ribera, protagonist of the novel, goes when he leaves the Dachau camp of at the end of World War II, to try and have news of his wife, Rosa. There, at the Lutecia Hotel, the Red Cross welcomes the deportees and organizes the information that gets to the capital: endless lists of dead people, of missing people and, less likely, of survivors.

With this family saga marked by an impossible love story, magnificently set between France and Spain, and narrated with great sensitivity, Empar Fernández dares to try something new and different from the rest of her novels. This is a novel that tells the life of an exiled Catalan Republican, Andreu Ribera, who ends up in a Nazi concentration camp and who, at the end of World War II, can’t return to Catalonia and thus is forced to start a new life in French Provence. Composed of two narratives, it first tells the story of Andreu and then, the story of his son André who, in 1969, who travels to Poble Sec, an emblematic neighborhood of Barcelona, ​​in search of answers. Thanks to his grandfather Andres, both the reader and André will know the murky secrets of the Ribera family.

An intense novel, which recounts the cruelest reality of an era, which moves the reader but at the same time, wraps us in the atmosphere of Paris, Provence and Barcelona, ​​with a relaxing aroma of lavender and a deep, elegant writing style, which won´t leave anyone indifferent, that´s for sure. Great characters, an exceptional narrative and a horrendous historical background told in a such a perfect way, to make sure it never happens again.

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