Ricardo Menéndez Salmón was born in Gijón, Asturias in 1971 and has been hailed as one of the most interesting and profound writers of contemporary Spanish fiction. He writes for newspapers such as El País and a range of literary journals as well as having published an unconventional travel book, a play, poetry, short stories and eight novels to date. Menéndez Salmón has won numerous literary prizes and been widely translated although – perhaps surprisingly – none of his work has yet been made available in English. La noche feroz/The Savage Night (KRK Ediciones, 2006, re-edited Seix Barral 2011) was selected by New Spanish Books for their UK Panel’s Choice in 2012 and La luz es más antigua que el amor/Light is Older than Love (Seix Barral, 2010) was chosen in 2011.
Menéndez Salmón is best known for the so-called Trilogy of Evil, comprised of La ofensa/The Offence (Seix Barral, 2007), Derrumbe/Tremor (Seix Barral, 2008) and El corrector/The Proof Reader (Seix Barral, 2009). In the year of its publication, La ofensa won the Qwerty Barcelona Televisión prize, the Librería Sintagma prize for Best Book of the Year, as well as being chosen by the literary journal Quimera as Best Spanish Narrative of 2007.
Featured Reading Group Title
La ofensa (The Offence)
Kurt Crüwell expects little more from life than to one day take over the family tailoring business in the German city of Bielefeld. With the outbreak of the Second World War, however, Kurt is drafted into the German army and everything is turned upside down. Despite his father’s advice to avoid attracting the attention of his superiors, Kurt is chosen as a driver for an SS officer and their lives become grimly entangled from that moment on.
Divided into three very different parts (described by the author respectively as journalistic reportage, philosophical treatise and a conversation between the dead), the book follows Kurt’s life and devastating wartime journey through three countries, finishing up in London in 1946. Narrated in a curiously detached third person style, the novel is an intense reflection on morality, suffering and the human capacity for evil. Examined through the prism of Nazism, the issues raised could apply equally well to any situation in which the usual barriers have broken down and man’s instinct for cruelty is permitted to take free rein. Menéndez Salmón delicately dissects not just pain and fear, but notions of love, redemption and expiation, as well as the limits of the human psyche and body.
- La ofensa was featured in our Spanish Reading Group Autumn 2012.
- Anna Milsom’s sample translation is available to download for free. Let us know what you think by commenting below.