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Willy Uribe: Rematch PDF Print
Friday, 03 July 2009

Published by:  Editorial Ámbar, Barcelona, 2009. 192 pages. €13,00

 

Translated by Liz Hall (Mantra)
 

 An indoor football match is being organized on an affluent housing estate on the outskirts of Madrid between home owners and their staff.  What initially began as merely a bit of harmless fun soon turns into something a little more serious – owing to the challenge faced by the home owners who have been defeated in previous years by their predominantly Latin-American staff, and also to the amount of money changing hands in the form of bets around the game.  This is the starting point of Rematch, the latest novel by Willy Uribe which tells how, little by little, the tension surrounding this event sparks off personal confrontations thus making the situation so highly charged that the heavenly world of cement and grass which symbolizes the housing estate is transformed into a hell.

ImageOne of the greatest strengths of the novel is the way in which Uribe reflects on modern society’s obsession with image and appearance and how meanness can crop up at any time and in any place.  In this sense it therefore seems understandable that in the first chapters he presents the day-to-day life on the estate. The third person narrator paints a picture of traditional local customs ranging from family breakfasts to bike rides around the area.  These normal routines, all set in a place near the mountains, well away from the stresses and strains of the city give an impression of an oasis of space in which the drama takes place, almost as though it were a stronghold of peace and tranquillity alongside what is the urban jungle.  Just as in classic detective stories where country mansions or spas set well away from the real world are turned into perfect crime scenes on the surprise discovery of a supposed dead body, the scene created by Uribe impacts upon the reader who discovers that what really goes on behind closed doors is something which, in actual fact, is very different from the image portrayed to the outside world.

In this transformation from the idyllic world into a hell, one of the novel’s protagonists carries significant weight, being responsible for contriving a plot around the game, almost as if weaving a web into which the other characters will become entangled.  His is a presence that inevitably leads us to reflect on the age in which we live and, more specifically, on a landscape of financial risks and economic misery.  Without morals of any kind, this character represents those people for whom the ends are more important than the means and for whom personal satisfaction is always above the interests of the community.  His actions trigger events, relegating the rest of the characters to the mere roles of victims of a plot of which only he knows all the details.

Narrated with an absolute objectivism and written in a cutting and aseptic style which has fittingly been likened to that of the American author Dashiell Hammett, Rematch is a dark novel in which the “why” matters much more than the “who”.  Harsh, powerful and enigmatic, the novel will not fail to influence anyone who picks it up and will convince the reader of the ability of one of the most promising narrators of Spanish literature.

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