CAMPO DE CRIPTANA, Spain — In her debut novel, “Feria,” Ana Iris Simón begins with a poignant admission: “I’m jealous of the life that my parents had at my age.”
“Feria” is predicated on her childhood within the arid heartland of Spain, with dad and mom who have been postal staff and grandparents who have been farmers on one aspect, touring fairground staff on the opposite. Little occurs, however that's intentional — she desires readers to understand her rural upbringing in Castilla-La Mancha, the area made well-known by the Cervantes traditional “Don Quixote.”
Ms. Simón, 30, additionally means, by way of her portrayal of how her household lived, to specific ambivalence about what her technology has gained — college educations, journey, client items — in addition to their emotions of hysteria, particularly in the case of jobs and the economic system. Ms. Simón herself misplaced her job as a journalist working for Vice journal as she was writing “Feria.”
The e book has struck a chord with readers, but it surely has additionally develop into a lightning rod in Spain’s emotional political debate, fueled by social gathering fragmentation and polarization. Ms. Simón mentioned her e book had been interpreted as “a questioning of the dogmas of liberalism,” to an extent that she had not anticipated.
Her dad and mom had a house and have been elevating a 7-year previous daughter on the age when she was nonetheless making an attempt to develop into a author, Ms. Simón writes. “We, however, have neither a house, nor children, nor a car. Our belongings are an iPhone and an Ikea bookshelf. … But we convince ourselves that freedom means avoiding having children, a house and a car because who knows where we will be living tomorrow.”
Initially revealed in late 2020 by a small Spanish press, Circulo de Tiza, “Feria” has since been reprinted 13 instances and bought nearly 50,000 exhausting copies. It is getting distributed this month in Latin America by one other writer, Alfaguara, in addition to translated into German. (There aren't any plans up to now for an English translation.)
In the e book, Ms. Simón describes her grandfather, José Vicente Simón, planting an almond tree on the outskirts of city, merely to have a tendency it and watch it develop. During a go to to the world, the tree was thriving, and Mr. Simón and different characters from the novel have been simply as she portrayed them.
When Mr. Simón, 85, was advised that he can be photographed for this text, he requested for time to spruce up and alter garments. He quickly got here again with an identical-looking cardigan, besides that it was blue somewhat than brown. He had additionally modified his cap, to a thicker model made from felt.
“That’s just the way he is,” his granddaughter mentioned with a chuckle. “He cares about little things that nobody else really notices.”
One of her uncles, Pablo Rubio-Quintanilla, is a carpenter who's pleased with his harmonograph, an instrument that makes use of a pendulum to attract geometric shapes. Echoing her grandfather’s relationship along with his tree, Mr. Rubio-Quintanilla defined that he constructed his harmonograph for the sheer pleasure of watching it draw.
“I don’t believe things need to have a value or use, but they need to be enjoyed,” he mentioned throughout a go to to his workshop. “The harmonograph works thanks to the law of gravity, and it seems magical that the drawings never come out exactly the same.”
As a scholar, Ms. Simón was an activist who joined a far-left protest motion in 2011 that occupied Puerta del Sol, a well-known sq. in Madrid, to sentence political corruption and financial inequality, simply months earlier than the Occupy Wall Street motion adopted go well with in New York.
On the again of her novel’s success, Ms. Simón has taken on a bigger position, and he or she was lately invited by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, a socialist, to present a speech about the right way to revive the Spanish countryside. She has additionally now develop into a columnist for El País, the Spanish newspaper.
Ms. Simón careworn that she remained far to the left of Mr. Sánchez’ politics and sad along with his administration of Spain, in addition to against a European Union that she blames for turning Spain into “the resort hotel of Europe.” She mentioned that she was shocked not solely by the success of her e book, but additionally by how an ultranationalist and conservative viewers had embraced “Feria” as an ode to Spain’s conventional household values, though it discusses her dad and mom’ separation and her homosexual brother. Last June, the chief of Spain’s far-right Vox social gathering, Santiago Abascal, grasped a replica of “Feria” whereas addressing Congress.
“Some people have been reading my book as if it were the new ‘Mein Kampf,’ and they then are writing to me to say that they are disappointed to find that it has neither the strong political message that they had hoped for, nor the content that they had heard about,” she mentioned.
According to Pablo Simón, a politics professor on the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid (who will not be associated to the author), “Feria” has fueled Spain’s political debate as a result of “even if it is a novel and not a political treaty, the book ascertains that the current generation is worse off than the previous ones, which is a claim that is easy for politicians to use, even if it is not necessarily based on facts.”
He added: “Our parents may have had fewer ambitions and faced less uncertainty, but it doesn’t mean that they were better off, and nostalgia also makes us forget the difficult and sordid aspects of the Spain of the 1970s and 1980s, including high drug consumption and joblessness during a very complicated industrial reconversion.”
Having lately develop into a mom, Ms. Simón now lives together with her son and her associate, Hasel-Paris Álvarez, in Aranjuez, a city exterior Madrid the place her dad and mom additionally dwell. While elevating her baby and writing for El País, Ms. Simón mentioned, she had been making an attempt to guard her household from the poisonous feedback her e book has triggered on social media, from each the appropriate and the left.
“We unfortunately live in a time when some people offend just for the sake of it, even if it gets nonsensical, to the point that I got attacked as a Red Fascist,” she mentioned.
Ms. Simón mentioned that she wrote “Feria” with restricted ambitions, intending it as a report of a lifestyle that she fears will quickly be misplaced. She recalled her father warning her that “although nobody else would read this, at least we have a lot of cousins who will buy the book.” Her grandparents met at a good (“feria” in Spanish, which impressed the e book’s title), after which, she wrote, “they only did two things: have children and travel Spain in the Sava minivan that they bought.”
But her e book touches upon many different points, from feminism to the significance of the Catholic Church in rural Spain. She additionally talks concerning the financial decline of Castilla-La Mancha, a area that she describes as “much sun and much wind and the sky and the orange-colored plain that are endless.”
And regardless of her nostalgia, Ms. Simón additionally shares bittersweet recollections of how “I was ashamed that Campo de Criptana appeared on my identity card,” in order that she would falsely declare Madrid as her birthplace as an alternative. As to Spain’s id as a nation, she wrote that “there is nothing more Spanish than asking what Spain is.”