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    Gazapillo

    After the young folk moved away, the Three Kings stopped visiting the village. Or did they?

    By Óscar Esquivias

    November 18, 2000
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    Tizón had been weak for a few days, limping and listless. That afternoon he could no longer move his hind legs. He shivered even when lying in the sun, and there were hard lumps in his belly that made him whine and snap when his master tried to feel them. Simeón filled his dog’s water bowl and went to sleep. The next morning at dawn he found Tizón stiff, a puddle of dried vomit under his snout. A few geranium petals and drowned mosquitoes floated in the bowl.

    Simeón wrapped his dog in a piece of old burlap and dragged the body out to the garage. There, with some difficulty, clumsy with grief, he loaded it into the van. It took him a while to start the vehicle. When it sputtered and caught, the engine sounded tired, like an old man’s breathing. He headed toward the top of the moor to let the scavengers deal with the poor animal. He had done the same with his other dogs, whose names he often recited to himself: Luna, Zar, Canelo, Picolín, Laska, Sol, Perro (there was no way to give that devil of a dog a proper name), Bicho, and Tizón. He liked how the litany sounded and he repeated it, drumming on the steering wheel: “Luna, Zar, Canelo, / Picolín, Laska, Sol, / Perro, Bicho, and Tizón.”

    The road to the moor was wide and paved with well-packed gravel. It had been built a few years before by the company that installed the wind turbines; he called them “mills” although he knew they didn’t grind anything. Their imposing blades swung vigorously in the wind when it blew hard, as if they yearned to kill passing vultures with a swat. Sometimes they succeeded, and the busted carcasses of the birds lay at their feet like offerings to brutal gods.

    metal figurine of a dog lying down

    All photographs from Adobe Stock.

    When he reached the top of the moor, Simeón veered down a side road that was little more than a pair of faint ruts in the grass. Dry thistles scratched furiously at the underside of the van. When he reached a stand of live oaks, he stopped. He opened the rear doors, but before removing Tizón, he sat down on a cairn to smoke. There at ground level, the fall crocuses were in full bloom, those little plants with the childish name “lose-your-lunch” that herald the arrival of autumn.

    It was hot. A few wind turbines moved their blades slowly, like reluctant gymnasts, but the others were completely still. Simeón was so lost in thought he did not notice a vehicle approaching, and jumped when he heard its roar. It was a Civil Guard SUV.

    An agent got out of the car and walked toward Simeón, adjusting his cap.

    “Good morning, and what are you doing here, sir?”

    “Nothing. Smoking,” Simeón replied, as he nervously got to his feet.

    “I can see that. Let’s take a look at this vehicle.” He said “let’s” although he was alone. The wasteland attracted poachers and unauthorized archaeologists and Simeón guessed he had been mistaken for one of them.

    “You can’t dump carcasses here,” the guard told him, realizing that Simeón was a harmless old man. He used a neutral, respectful tone, as if informing Simeón of a rule he was unaware of. Simeón knew that nothing could be dumped on the moor, but the order seemed absurd to him and went against a lifetime’s habit. What would eat the carcass if not the scavengers?

    The guard had a strong, vaguely southern accent that Simeón couldn’t quite place. He was tempted to inquire, but didn’t want to appear curious or flippant. During his youth, his itinerant years working in half the factories in Spain, he had often been asked where he was from, a question with a subtext: “You are obviously not from here.”

    This guard had a red face and clean-shaven cheeks and a head that made him look almost hairless; his pierced ears had no earrings. He was tall, very thin, and smelled of thick cologne. He had the same urbane, slightly stupefied air of Simeón’s great-nephews. Simeón assumed that, like them, this guard would dress in party clothes every weekend, go to a disco, dance, get drunk, flirt, and piss long and hard from the many liters of beer the young people drank nowadays. Or like young groups of friends used to do in the village alleys during the summer Fiesta del Veraneante.

    Simeón offered the guard a cigarette. To his surprise, the young man accepted it. And even lit it.

    “What was his name?” asked the young man, pointing his chin at the van as he exhaled smoke with style, like an actor.

    “Tizón.”

    “Was he a good dog?”

    The question surprised Simeón. He thought for a minute before replying. “Yes. Very good.”

    “You’ll have to find another.”

    “No. He was the last one. I’m old myself and don’t want to leave any dog an orphan. The next animal to be dumped here will be me.”

    “Well, whoever does that will land a hefty fine.”

    That must have been a joke, of course, but the guard said it in a serious, dry tone. He didn’t seem to be a very cheerful person. They were silent for a while, smoking and staring at the nearest wind turbine.

    “They’re ugly, but you have to admit they’re imposing, right?” said the guard.

    “They impose,” Simeón conceded.

    painted carving of a king standing with a gift in his hands

    Those metal rattletraps, tall as Gothic cathedrals, forced one to look up to God, Simeón thought – although he wasn’t entirely sure God was up there. On sleepless summer nights when the heat drove him out of bed, Simeón had gone up there with the dog to contemplate the stars. But the beacons of the turbines were brighter still, some red and others white, flashing intermittently like lightning or tongues of fire. He and the guard stayed there, under that Pentecost, listening to the obstinate noise of the blades and the hum of the nearby highway.

    “Do you live down in the village?” asked the guard.

    “Yes.”

    “Have the summer folk left yet?”

    “They’ve left.”

    “You’re going to have a new neighbor. You know, right? The hunters have hired a guard. He’s Moroccan, and he has a family.”

    “That’s good.” Simeón finished his cigarette and stomped it. “If you don’t need me, I’m going home.”

    “Call the vet, he’ll tell you what to do with the body.”

    “Thank you. Goodbye, good day.”

    The guard put his hand to his temple in salute.

    At sunset, Simeón drove back up the moor and left Tizón in the stand of live oaks. The first vulture appeared in the distance before he had even started driving home.

    Over the last few years, robberies had become commonplace in the region. Gangs of thieves passed through, raiding abandoned sheds, homes, churches, and chapels. They carried off agricultural machinery, household appliances, money, jewelry, chalices, silver votive offerings, chandeliers – things like that. His village wasn’t spared, although there was hardly anything valuable left there. The farmers had all gone, their land sold or rented to people from other towns. In fact, only three houses were occupied year-round: Señora Goya’s, Señora Paulina’s, and his. And the church – oh, the church! – was almost empty and about to fall to its knees and become a ruin. No Mass had been said there for years, not even on the day of the patron saint, Saint Quiteria. (She was a decapitated martyr: Simeón found it revealing that the local saint had no head.) The archdiocese had removed the altarpiece, including the saint, the processional cross, and the silver vessels, and distributed them to parishes in Burgos, the provincial capital, without meeting any protest. The sanctuary was devoured by humidity. Now its mossy vaults only sheltered four plaster images: Saint Isidro, Saint Sebastian, the Virgin of Lourdes, and a Baby Jesus in his cradle. They remained in the deserted building like four convicts condemned to life behind bars.

    metal figurine of a camel

    Until a few months ago, one thing in the church had still been in operation: the clock, installed and maintained by the municipality, which chimed every hour. But one night someone stole the bell. The thieves must have scaled the façade of the church (which was not very high and full of cracks), levered the bronze bell off its mounting and thrown it to the ground. The hole it made when it landed could be seen in the plaza’s paving stones. No one heard anything. That was strange, since the hunters’ dogs were locked in a nearby pen and must have raised Cain with their barking; those animals protest at every passing swallow.

    Since then, the belfry looked miserable, like an eye with an empty socket. Simeón missed the chiming of the hours and the Angelus. Now, he thought, not even Saint Gabriel visited the village. He used to invoke the saint daily (The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary …) at the strike of twelve. But that was the way things were. He had grown accustomed to life as a succession of losses. Now the village was almost devoid of souls. The only simulacrum of life occurred during summer holidays and a few long weekends, when the village’s descendants returned to occupy their forebears’ shuttered houses. Then there were people in the streets, and even a festival at the end of August – not the old Saint Quiteria, of course, but a potluck advertised as “the great paellada.” Everyone gathered in the shady part of the square and ate off plastic plates. Then there were dances that were impossible to follow, and the music blared over a collective drunkenness until dawn. After that, the vacationers returned to their houses in Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid, and only the old ones stayed.

    There had been only three of them for a long time now: two widows and a bachelor, alone even at Christmas because their children or relatives lived far away. But the three enjoyed good health, plenty of time, sufficient savings, snug houses, gardens, and farmyards. The baker came once a week, the mailman from time to time, the gas man and the diesel tanker when they were called, the garbage man every fortnight, and there was a doctor in Sasamón. They had everything they needed.

    And there were the hunters, of course, each autumn. They didn’t lodge in the village, though, preferring a nearby hotel. They had legal use of the preserve and had received handsome compensation after suing the electric company for the damage caused by the wind turbines. It was they who cleaned the springs on the moor and installed water stations for the wildlife. They also hired a guard to take care of the dogs and drive them in a minibus from the hotel to the moor.

    The day the Moroccans moved into the house the hunters had rented, Simeón went over with a bucket full of apricots as a welcome gift. He had waited until late in the afternoon to give them time to unpack. He knocked on the door, then rang the bell and was about to leave when a woman appeared. How unfortunate; he got along better with men.

    “Do you eat apricots?” Simeón asked somewhat abruptly.

    The woman nodded.

    “Well, here you are,” he said. When he saw her hesitate, he added: “It’s a gift. Do you speak Spanish?”

    “My name is Latifa. Thank you very much, that’s very kind,” she replied, smiling.

    “I am Simeón. I live over there.” He waved his hand in the general direction of his house.

    Suddenly, a boy emerged from among Latifa’s skirts like a puppet in a show. He must have been about four years old.

    “This is Zacarías,” his mother said.

    Simeón looked at him silently and raised his eyebrows in greeting. The boy stood still, staring at him with wide eyes.

    “Welcome to the village,” the old man said. And since he had said everything he had to say, he departed.

    The next day, Simeón harvested the apples from his orchard and removed the pitchforks that had been propping up the laden branches. The poor little trees had looked like they were about to walk off, leaning on those canes like old men with crooked backs and a walking stick in each hand. Suddenly, Latifa and Zacarías appeared. Latifa was carrying a plate in her hands.

    “For you, Señor Simeón.”

    The plate was full of something that looked like sweets dipped in honey. They were certainly fresh, because the plate was still warm.

    “Thank you very much, Latifa. Here, have an apple. You eat apples, right?” Simeón wasn’t quite sure what foods Muslims were forbidden to eat. He knew that they did not drink alcohol (although a Syrian bricklayer who lived in a nearby town was a famous drunk) and that they avoided pork and rabbit. So he wondered if they would avoid certain fruit too. If so, the apple perhaps was one, because of Adam and Eve.

    metal figurine of a dog standing

    But Latifa raised the corners of her apron and Simeón dumped a dozen apples into it. She seemed very happy with the gift, and thanked him before turning to go. Zacarías watched everything with his owlish eyes. As he left, clutching his mother’s skirt, he turned back and stared at the old man the way you look at a dog you suspect might bite you.

    But what struck Simeón most was the gesture Latifa made with her apron. She reminded him of his mother, who had died young long ago. She too had carried beans, tomatoes, zucchini that way. And eggs. Like her, Latifa covered her hair with a headscarf and walked with resolution, a graceful way of moving her body that Simeón had forgotten. He felt a lump in his throat. For a moment, he felt like a child again and the word “mother” blossomed on his lips. He hadn’t thought of her in years. Now he seemed to see her there, alive, with a toddler who could have been himself nearly eighty years ago.

    The next morning, Latifa knocked on his door. She’d brought him another dessert, also covered in honey, heavily spiced and fragrant.

    “Thank you very much, Latifa, you needn’t bother. Wait there, I’ll walk you home and bring along this bucket of apples.”

    When Simeón returned to his house, he threw the candy in the trash. “Does this woman only make sweets?” he thought. He couldn’t bring himself to tell her that the honey would stick to his dentures and pull them out.

    Zacarías did not take long to feel at home. He began walking around the village on his own, playing with a stick, a colored ball, or a plastic truck. He chased the cats and was almost like a cat himself, silent and suspicious, wandering here and there. He often approached Simeón and watched him from a distance, very attentive, without ever speaking a word. “De mal montecillo, bueno es el gazapillo,” Simeón used to tell him by way of greeting. You’ll find a young rabbit even in the most desolate places. To the old man, Zacarías was a sign of resurrection in his beloved dying town, so he gave him the nickname gazapillo, little rabbit.

    It was sad to always see the boy alone. It reminded him of that year when a stork stayed in the village all winter, shivering in its nest when there was a blizzard and flying through the leaden skies as if lost in a maze.

    The guard, Ahmed, resembled his little son in looks and character. He was quite reserved, which is why the villagers – Goya, Paulina, and Simeón – took to him. They had the same disposition and didn’t usually trust strangers. At night, Ahmed would smoke one cigarette after another, sometimes a whole pack, on the doorstep, staring at the wind turbines as if hypnotized. Simeón often went out to smoke with him. Sometimes the guard’s phone would ring and he would have a long conversation in Arabic that Simeón thought sounded like an argument. Later he realized that it was Ahmed’s way of speaking: imperious, emphatic, and bossy. His way of talking in Arabic, that is, because in ordinary life Ahmed hardly spoke. He said hello in the villagers’ way, raising his eyebrows, and with that everything was said.

    On pleasant afternoons, Señora Goya, Señora Paulina, and Simeón had the custom of bringing a chair down to the plaza to talk for a while before dinner. One evening at the end of September, during the San Miguel warm spell, Zacarías came stumbling up to them. He was more comfortable with the women than with Simeón and even let them pick him up, although he didn’t speak to them either. At first, in fact, they had thought the child was mute, until they once heard him cry. Señora Goya, who still had a lot of strength in her arms (she boasted about it), lifted Zacarías up so he could play in the fountain. The boy was caressing the sheet of falling water with his hand when the last rays of the sun flared up, lit the clouds and gilded everything: the houses, the one-eyed façade of the church, the stone fountain, the acacias in the square. Everything shone like an altarpiece. On an impulse, Simeón went to the fountain, cupped his hands, filled them with water and poured it over the child’s head: “I baptize you, Gazapillo, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

    Señora Goya started and nearly dropped the child into the fountain. “But what are you doing? Can’t you see they can see you?”

    Simeón shrugged. Zacarías seemed amused by his unexpected bath and threw more water over his little head. At that moment, Latifa appeared in the square, striding briskly. Simeón shrank back.

    “The child has gotten a little wet,” said Señora Goya as she put him down.

    “That’s all right. Zacarías, let’s go, it’s time for dinner.”

    Latifa walked with him toward home. The others picked up their chairs and left in silence.

    Winter came, the intense cold, the days with hardly any light. Simeón was chopping kindling when he noticed a presence behind him. Already accustomed to Zacarías’ spying, he said loudly, “What are you doing there, Gazapillo, you rascal?”

    He turned around and saw the civil guard looking at him from the SUV. This time an even younger man was driving him. Simeón hastened to apologize. “Excuse me, I thought you were someone else.”

    “What’s new? Everything good around here?”

    “Everything’s fine.”

    Simeón was afraid the agent would ask him about the dog, but instead the young man pointed his chin at the Moroccans’ house and said, “How about those people?”

    Simeón shrugged. “They live their lives and they don’t bother anyone.”

    “It must be hard to acclimatize,” the guard commented.

    “I suppose there are worse places,” Simeón answered.

    “I guess,” the guard replied, and said goodbye.

    On Fridays, Ahmed did his shopping in Burgos. He would go to a supermarket by the ring road, then enter the city to stop by a halal butcher and attend prayers at the mosque. He always went alone. Latifa and the child had not left the village since they moved there, and when winter came they hardly left the house. On the evening before his outings, Ahmed visited Señora Goya and Paulina to ask if they needed anything. He also stopped by Simeón, who asked him to pick up tobacco and tinned sardines. That day, as Ahmed entered Simeón’s house, he bumped into the cabinet where the old man had placed his nativity scene with its river of silver paper, its Herodian castle, and all the crowded hustle and bustle of washerwomen, shepherds, and other miscellaneous characters. There was a small earthquake. The figurines staggered and some fell.

    “I’m sorry,” Ahmed said, hurrying to pick one up.

    “Don’t worry. They’re plastic, they don’t break.”

    Ahmed had the figure of King Melchior, mounted on his dromedary, in his hand.

    “Do you know who the Three Wise Men are?” Simeón asked.

    “Yes.”

    The old man thought he had said “No.”

    “They are characters from the Bible, three great sages who knew how to read the stars and brought gifts to Jesus on the night of January 5. Since then they return year after year. Well, that’s what children are told, of course. When I was little, people lit bonfires at the top of the moor so the kings would not pass us by. The bell rang out the Magi’s special peal, which only sounded on that occasion. Since the village has always been very small, we children were afraid that the kings would forget us and continue straight on to Sasamón. I don’t know how they fooled us because the kings were three men of the village badly disguised with painted beards, capes, and crowns made from this and that. But you can’t imagine the excitement we felt when we saw them, and how enthusiastically we played the tambourine and sang Christmas carols as we followed them to church to adore the child. One year, my mother was very ill and they came here to our house, right into her bedroom. I was with her. When King Balthasar saw me, he reached into his bag and gave me an orange. I still remember that orange, how good it smelled and tasted, the happiness and comfort it gave me. Do you eat oranges?”

    Ahmed smiled. “Yes.”

    “My mother died the next day. That was the end of my childhood. The orange is my last childhood memory. I was seven. Then there were no more kings or anything else. The sweetness of the world ended for me.”

    “I’m sorry.”

    “That’s life. The Three Wise Men have not come to the village for many years, and neither to Sasamón. Only old people are left in this region. But in Burgos, they ride in a procession with all their court, laden with gifts. You should see it on Friday, if you have time: the streets are lit up, there are floats in the procession and lots of music. And Zacarías would like it very much, I think. Everyone becomes a child again that day.”

    Ahmed placed Melchior’s figurine in its place. Then he looked Simeón squarely in the eyes, very seriously. “Do you want us to go to the capital?”

    “Sure, that’s what I’m telling you, go, go. You’ll have a good time.”

    “I mean everyone.”

    “What’s that?”

    “Everyone. Zacarías, Latifa, Señora Goya, Señora Paulina, you. We can take the minibus. How many years has it been since you saw the procession?”

    “Will the hunters lend us the minibus?”

    “The hunters don’t need to know anything.”

    Simeón discussed it with the ladies, and all three agreed it was a crazy idea.

    “If my children see me, what will they think?” said Señora Goya.

    But later, after they each thought it over, it didn’t seem so bad.

    “Well, if they see me, they see me.”

    So they agreed with Ahmed that on Friday, at six in the evening, they would all leave together for Burgos.

    On Thursday, Simeón drove Goya and Paulina in the van to Sasamón’s hair salon because they said they couldn’t go to the parade looking all disheveled. They had their hair permed and dyed. They were glowing with excitement and wouldn’t stop quarreling. At their insistence, Simeón also had his hair cut. When he got home, he looked for his suit, the only one he had. He brushed it and tried it on. It was like being back in his body of a few years ago, when he used to dress up and go to the feast of Saint Quiteria and dance in the plaza. He had become stooped since then and put on some weight, but he could still fasten all the buttons. When he looked in the mirror, his former self looked back. He was almost tempted to tell his reflection what his life was going to be like, but it all seemed so sad that he immediately took off the suit and hung it back up.

    When he woke on Friday morning, Simeón did not need to look out the window to know that something had happened. Everything was silent, enveloped in a strange light. It was snowing. And that, on the moor and in the village, meant the roads would disappear for a few days. They were cut off. Simeón was downcast.

    At noon, Ahmed came to talk to him. “We won’t be able to go to the parade. I’m so sorry.”

    Simeón shrugged. “Poor Gazapillo. He would have enjoyed it very much, I tell you.”

    “Maybe next time.”

    “Maybe next time.”

    It was already dinner time, but Simeón had no appetite. He had been sad and clumsy all day, bumping into the furniture every time he moved. He had even broken a pretty Talavera pottery ashtray. Its fragments still lay on the floor, mixed with ash and cigarette butts, because he felt too lazy to sweep them up. He sat down on the sofa, turned on the television, and patted the cushion for Tizón to sit next to him. Although immediately aware of his mistake, for a few seconds he had a vivid sense of the dog’s presence. Nostalgia washed over him. It had stopped snowing hours ago and the sky had already cleared. Through the window he saw the wind turbines glittering at the top of the moor.

    “There’s a child in this village and the kings can’t stop by today,” Simeón said to himself. He rose from the sofa. As he thought about what he could give to Gazapillo, he remembered that in a shoe box were coins he had found. These rusty objects from other centuries sometimes appeared in the furrows after the tractors plowed, and he found them on his walks through the fields. He kept them not because he thought they were worth much, but because, somewhat superstitiously, he used them to forestall swelling when he bruised himself. Pressing the skin with a coin prevented a welt from forming, or so his mother had told him. And as an old man, he continued to follow her advice.

    “Children fall and bump themselves a lot,” he thought, convincing himself of the goodness of the gift.

    He put his suit back on and secured his tie. Then he combed his hair with cologne. The smell of lavender gave him a sudden optimism, as if he were a little drunk. Before leaving, he swept up the remains of the ashtray. Then, very carefully, he walked down Calle de la Peñuela, steadying his feet in the snow as he leaned on the wall with one hand. The snow compounded the moonlight and streetlights. In the square, next to the fountain, he met Goya and Paulina coming down their respective streets.

    “The man, the missing one!” they greeted him.

    Without another word, the trio started slowly towards the house of Gazapillo. They rang the doorbell, which shrilled loudly.

    “That’ll frighten them,” Señora Paulina said.

    painted carving of a king on a camel

    Latifa opened the door. She was somewhat surprised, but invited them to come in without asking questions. It was the first time the three old people had passed through the vestibule and entered that house. Most of the walls were still bare, lightbulbs hung by a thread like pears, and there was little furniture. Many belongings and clothes were still in cardboard boxes. Everything looked poor, uncomfortable, and sad. They reached the kitchen. On the table there were a few bowls, some nuts, and large glasses of tea. The boy was in a high chair with his spoon half-sunk in his bowl.

    “Hello, Gazapillo,” Simeón said.

    The boy smiled. “Hamihala!”footnote

    It was the first word they had heard from him.

    Ahmed pulled up some chairs and placed three more bowls on the table. Latifa began to serve a thick stew. It was made of vegetables and chicken and smelled of spices and other things the villagers couldn’t identify and suspected they wouldn’t like, though they kept their opinions to themselves. They began to eat in silence, like members of a family who don’t have much to say to each other.

    After dessert, Señora Goya suggested that they sing something, because a party without music is no party at all. She prudently began with “Asturias, Beloved Homeland,” perhaps to avoid uncomfortable religious allusions. But when she was warmed up, she continued with “To Bethlehem Goes a Donkey” (Simeón joined on the chorus), and then with another Christmas carol, and another. Paulina joined in the last one, although they argued about the lyrics, because one said “campanitas verdes” and the other, “pampanitos verdes.” They laughed, but neither gave in and their debate got quite heated. Simeón didn’t try the sweets dipped in honey, so Latifa offered him an orange. He was so moved he could hardly hold back his tears, but he quickly got over it.

    In the end, when they tired of singing, they gave Gazapillo the gifts. They were the most extravagant objects any child had ever received. Simeón’s treasure trove was joined by a huge bottle of women’s perfume from Señora Goya, and a deck of cards and a green playmat from Señora Paulina, the closest thing to a toy, she said, that she had at home.

    The story could have ended here, but it would not be a real Christmas story if I failed to mention that, just at that moment, a bell was heard ringing.

    “It’s in the church!” Goya said.

    “The Magi’s peal!” Paulina exclaimed.

    The hunters’ dogs began to bark excitedly. It seemed their barking came from everywhere, as if they were running loose in the streets. Simeón thought that he distinguished, amid the pandemonium, Tizón’s voice. He suddenly felt an intimate certainty, a kind of epiphany, and said solemnly: “Ladies and gentlemen, I can now go in peace. It’s a holy night.”

    And with haste, as if trying to catch a departing train, he first kissed the child’s little hand, then kissed Latifa and Ahmed, Señora Goya and Señora Paulina on the cheeks, and went out into the street. He went toward the barking, saying to himself:

    Luna, Zar, Canelo,
    Picolín, Laska, Sol,
    Perro, Bicho, and Tizón
    .


    Written for La noche de navidad (Encuentro, 2021). Translated by Coretta Thomson.

    Footnotes

    1. Old Spanish exclamation from the twelfth-century Auto de los Reyes Magos, the earliest extant Spanish drama.—Trans.
    Contributed By OscarEsquivas2 Óscar Esquivias

    Óscar Esquivias is the author of several novels, short story collections, and children’s books and poems. His essays on literature, art, and travel have appeared in El País, 20 Minutos, and Archiletras. He is the recipient of the Castile and León Literature Prize and the Sentinel Award.

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