It hasn't been a bad year in the prolific black crop and at the Elemental blog we have once again decided to bring together a group of experts to choose a novel that they consider the best of the year.
It is important to remember that it is not a vote and that is why each one explains their choice later.
There is also no pecking order.
They are just, as if that were not enough, novels accompanied by the prescribing endorsement of those who accompany me in this work.
Like other years, I once again take advantage of my status as coordinator of this site to get out of the norm a bit and offer two books: one in Spanish and the other translated.
I have to admit that I always give the floor first to the firms that so generously fill this article (writers who are booksellers or journalists at the same time, privateer booksellers, critics and festival curators), so many times they already cite the books that I would like to have put
It has happened with those of Esther García Llovet and Alexis Ravelo, two of the best samples in Spanish of how to face the genre with courage and literary quality.
Come, read and enjoy.
(Librería de Salamanca. National Prize for the Promotion of Reading 2016)
Esther Garcia Llovet.
Llovet stamp, one, two and three.
One: wonderful characters to whom extravagant events happen in settings built to suit them, but they were already there.
Or: stick to what is strictly real within an unusual, rare setting.
Two: the extravagant: his characters are looking for something that does not seem to be related, by excess or by default, with the effort they put into achieving it.
Three: the characters.
That almost black Sánchez, this Michela, national police officer, British by origin, corrupt by adoption.
They chase something outside, they flee from what is inside themselves.
, with its police, its organized crime, its Macguffin and its everything.
Benidorm seems like an equalizer on a crazy mixing desk and Llovet lends all his talent for the unveiled to a novel that is pure adrenaline and toying with the conventions of the genre.
Here, my interview with the author.
Tom Franklin, in Paris in 2012. Ulf ANDERSEN (Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Carlos Zanón (BCNegra Commissioner and writer. His latest novel is 'Love Song')
, Tom Franklin (Dirty Works, translation by Javier Lucini).
Like today's Formula 1 cars, it's always the same car with new things that make it faster, more powerful, crazier and more everyday.
We have read this border novel —like all of them— a hundred times before but there is an urgency, a way, a decision in the narrative that knocks you down without problems.
A use of parodic violence, a story-show of dialogues and action, and the joy of being able to write from the wild without going down to the cultured city to ask for permission or an alibi, which makes it irresistible.
Because, furthermore, Tom Franklin writes as he pleases and well.
Zanón is also a critic of Babelia.
Here you can read all his articles.
Ana Ballabriga (Writer, her latest novel is 'The Eternal Desire', co-written with David Zaplana)
, Alexis Ravelo (Siruela).
Betting on Alexis Ravelo is risking little.
You know that you are going to read a story where the theme is at the service of the plot, that is, it will make you reflect but you will not get bored along the way.
And with that said,
Los nombres prestandos
was the winner of the 2021 Café Gijón Novel Prize. It tells the story of two characters, Tomás and Marta, who arrived on a small island, Nidocuervo, a symbol of emptied Spain.
The first is accompanied by his dog Rocco, the second, a special teenager.
Both seek peace and redeem themselves from the past.
But the past returns.
Set in the 80s and with very careful prose, the author tells us a story that delves into the characters, which tells us about forgiveness and the possibility of starting over.
A novel that goes from the initial suspense to the darkest novel.
Marta Marne (Critic of 'El Periódico de Catalunya')
, Núria Bendicho (Sajalín)
Núria Bendicho enters through the great door of literature with her debut film
Finalist of the Llibres Anagrama Award in 2021, we have been able to read it in Spanish this 2022 by the hand of Sajalín.
Through a choral approach of thirteen voices in thirteen chapters, Bendicho delves into one of the darkest aspects of human relationships: secrets and family ties.
With a style as arid as the landscape that she describes to us, the author gives us a text full of long paragraphs and eternal subordinates.
Let no one be scared: that does not hinder the enjoyment of reading or the coup de effect of the outcome of it;
a shock that months later the reader will still continue to digest.
The writer Bernard Minier, in Paris in mid-2021. Bruno Levy
Ángel de la Calle (Author of comics and director of the Black Week of Gijón)
, Bernard Minier (Salamander, translation by Dolors Gallart).
An unsolved double crime, a crime novel writer, a young police officer.
And a quarter of a century later, everything starts again.
Minier is the current master of the French
I like a lot.
Sergio Vera (Commissioner of the Hanged Houses of Cuenca)
, Arantza Portabales (Lumen).
At Las Casas Horcadas we have been promoting reading through the black genre for a decade.
For this reason, although I would highlight
by Natalia M. Alcalde, for its delicious fusion of
with magical realism, and
El sueño del cíclope
, by Jerónimo Andreu, winner of the 3rd Paco Camarasa Award, for weaving an unusually plausible spy plot in Gibraltar, I am going to to recommend what seems to me the best novel to give this Christmas to teachers who want to enjoy reading with their students:
, by Arantza Portabales.
A novel of 184 pages that you will not be able to leave until you discover if Val Valdés is really guilty of the murder of which he pleads guilty.
A puzzle of micro-stories chronologically disordered and Machiavellically embedded so that you never want to miss a comma, which will offer us a complete vision of its multifaceted protagonist, from the time she got pregnant at the age of fifteen until she built the largest business empire in the country after winning. the first
All of this written with the deceptive simplicity that the great Domingo Villar knew how to print to his phrases and the turns of the best Pierre Lemaitre, which make this prodigy of literary goldsmithing a jewel that is mandatory for institutes.
Marina Sanmartín (Writer. Her latest work is 'Las manos tan pequeñas')
Andrea Camilleri (Salamander, translation by Carlos Mayor)
The intrigue that closes the Montalbano cases is not, however, the last novel that Andrea Camilleri wrote about his most charismatic and international character, and that makes it magical;
a peculiar work, with which the Sicilian author decided to guarantee the survival —and the end— of Montalbano beyond his own and in his hands, keeping him safe from sequels, prequels and others as common as disastrous editorial marketing operations .
Written with the certainty that it was a farewell, Riccardino has an aura of melancholy that, when mixed with the usual tone of the curator's stories, makes it an essential piece;
an exercise in pure literature, in which the fascinating relationship between Montalbano and Camilleri flies over the plot in a surprising way and poses, from the simplicity,
A report by Guillermo Altares about the Italian and his relationship with his character
Berna González Harbor (Journalist and writer. Her latest book is 'Goya en el país de los garrotazos')
The crime of Malladas
, Luis Roso (Upside down).
The author, a 34-year-old professor from Cáceres who knows a lot about empty Spain and, above all, about real Spain in general, has dedicated himself to investigating and novelizing a case that occurred in 1915 in his area: five people were hacked to death on a farm, including two girls and a pregnant woman.
Several peasants were sentenced.
But the truth was pending and this book has become the closest approximation in a search in which Unamuno and many institutions also participated.
Roso follows all the threads and shreds, shells, sculpts and refines one of those hidden stories turned into pending subjects of our justice.
A rarity that should be welcomed.
And an X-ray of Spain.
Or from a certain Spain.
Ivy Pochoda in 2014 in Vincennes, France. Ulf Andersen (Getty Images)
Juan Carlos Galindo
, Ivy Pochoda (Siruela, translation by Pablo González-Nuevo).
The novel that has meant the definitive consecration of one of the rarest and least prolific talents in crime-crime literature is a compendium of all its virtues: sobriety, complex characters that make them uncomfortable, and stories that mark the reader.
A novel built through a set of unique, powerful voices (the prostitute, the artist, the police, the mother of a victim, the next victim) that you take with you after reading.
As a gift, a perfect criminal plot, a love for the procedural that is seen below the rest of the great themes and a huge novel about the violence that men exercise against women.
Oh, and the city of Los Angeles seen from a different, dark angle, complementary to that of, for example, Michael Connelly (one of his big fans).
, Leonardo Padura (Tusquets).
Mario Conde's ninth story and the best of all.
It's not easy to achieve, you know, characters wear out, series go on forever and their qualities fade.
It is not the case of this novel in which, moreover, Padura manages to integrate the parallel historical plot better than ever, something that began to frequent in
(a book outside of Conde's adventures, which appears only in secondary), but it is now when he gets his fans, we don't miss those "famished" novels from the beginning.
Mario Conde is 62 years old and has aged physically and mentally.
He hasn't been a policeman for almost three decades but he continues to be one of the best characters in contemporary narrative.
If you want more, here is an interview with Berna González with the author about this book, Cuba and other things.
- I remind you that you can always visit last year's list.
- Or, now that winter has settled, go for one of these 21 novels analyzed and commented.
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