Víctor Andresco

Spain

©Daniel Mordzinski

 

Víctor Andresco was born in Madrid in 1966. After studying Slavic literature, he went on to work as a translator, cultural mediator and in the media, including for the prestigious El País and ABC feuilletons. From 2004 to 2008 he was the head of the Moscow Instituto Cervantes, recently relocating to Milan.

 

The novel A buenas horas cartas de amor (“Love Letters at an Auspicious Moment”) opens with a memorable scene: a body is found at a bus stop on the edge of Madrid. The dead woman is disguised as a man with make-up and a wig. Her fingertips have been burned with acid, and her coat is covered in stickers bearing a slogan of the Baha'i religion.

Detective Emilio González has a feeling the stickers are a red herring, but they are his only lead. So he starts his investigations around this sect. He meets Alicia Muro, a Baha'i herself and a television presenter, and the two fall in love. They become embroiled in sharp-tongued but affectionate battles of words. At some point, the police question a suspect beggar, who admits to having stabbed the body at the bus stop. But he is innocent, as rigor mortis must have set in before the stab wounds. The detectives find a pack of letters on the man, which he had taken from the victim – love letters in email form. Now Emilio has a new key to the case. He finds out that the addressee was named Berta who had various admirers in cyberspace. Her partner identifies her body, but the corpse is so mutilated that the judge refuses to accept his statement. Officially, the case is closed, but for Emilio it has still not been solved: An unknown woman died a natural death, and Berta has vanished.

In the book's epilogue, Berta herself speaks, and the reader finds out what the detective did not. Unhappy and constrained in her relationship and her job, she wanted to die and yet live on, which was why she decided to feign her death. She hoped to find a corpse in Madrid, where many women are abused and killed. Fortune played a role unexpectedly quickly.

The novel is not a shocker or a thriller, but portrays everyday life between love and indifference. Baha'i, Waldorf education, literary dialogues, email love letters and finally a murder that isn't a murder – the author paints a loving picture of this world in which we live. The novel is humorous, deep and fleet-of-foot in equal parts. The reader savours it like a good wine with a note that stays on the palate for a long time.

 

 

Novels:

 

Los clavos del cielo

Madrid: Sial 2002; 2. ed. 2003, 148 p.

 

A buenas horas cartas de amor

Barcelona: Norma 2008, 169 p.

 

Stories:

 

El rey del mundo

Madrid: Sial 2003, 92 p.