Sunday, 28 January 2018

Twist by Harkaitz Cano

Twist by Harkaitz Cano
First published in Basque in 2011. English language translation by Amaia Garbantxo published by Archipelago Books in America in October 2017. The English language ebook edition will be published in two days, on the 30th January 2018, and is available to preorder.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A moving portrayal of violence's emotional legacy in the Basque Country. Twist is tale of guilt, love, friendship, and betrayal, and of the difficulties that arise when one flees one's own skin to inhabit the minds of others.

Set in the politically charged climate of the Basque Country in the 1980s, Twist relates the disappearance and brutal murder of two ETA militants at the hands of the Spanish army. The novel centers on their friend and fellow activist Diego Lazkano, who, since revealing his comrades to the authorities, has been tormented by guilt. In Twist, Harkaitz Cano provides a multi-vocal account of a conscience and a society in turmoil.

Twist is a powerful novel of the effects of violence within a society and how the repercussions of violent acts continue to be felt for years and decades after they take place. The first third of Twist had me especially hooked as it recounts the events Diego Lazkano witnessed, experienced and perpetrated during his involvement with an ETA militant group. Cano unravels his story from different angles so I found myself at times feeling angry towards the young Diego for what he was doing, but at other times feeling sorry for him because of the apparently random coincidences that had led to his predicament.

Later this novel expands to look more deeply into the Basque political situation during the 1980s and afterwards. It also attempts to understand and portray the works of artists and actors around this theme of violence. Cano himself, I believe, is an artist across multiple media and I could certainly see his experience and knowledge through the novel, but I admit that some of the longer sections, while interesting in their own right, lost me as to their relevance to the central narrative. Fortunately, Twist does complete its circle so I wasn't left as confused as I did briefly become in the middle.

Twist doesn't graphically explain the origins and aims of ETA. I did already have an idea of what the group was about, but am not sure whether greater previous knowledge would actually have given me greater insight into Cano's novel. In a sense I found much of Diego's reflection and anguish to not be specific to his time and place. I believe Twist could be as relevant to other armed struggles for independence and recognition the world over and through much of history. While ETA was a Basque movement and Cano vividly evokes the Spanish setting in many of his scenes, the way in which his characters treat each other is depressingly universal.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Harkaitz Cano / Contemporary fiction / Books from Spain

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