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When I Sing The Mountain Dances

Canto jo i la muntanya balla

1960s. Domènec, a peasant and a poet, and Sió, his wife, a beautiful and determined girl, move to Matavaques, his country house, in an area of high mountains close to the border with France. During one of their customary walks, Domènec dies hit by lightning  in the middle of a storm. Sió must carry on running the farm and the education of their children Mia and Hilari, who are still very young.

1970s. The children grow up a bit wild, due to their isolation as well as Sió’s attitude, as she can’t overcome the death of her husband. The local legends (water maidens, victims of the witch hunt of the Middle Ages and the memory still alive of the Republicans who went into exile just in this part of the world) and the landscape of the Pyrenees shape the imagination and sensibility of these children who have a wonderful friendship with a neighbor their age—the strong and mysterious Jaume.

End of 1980s. Hilari inherits his father’s interest in poetry; Mia is a responsible older sister. Time passes and Jaume and Mia enter into a relationship. The discovery of the world is also a discovery of their bodies. But one day, when they are just 20, Hilari and Jaume go hunting venison and Jaume accidentally kills Hilari. Condemned for gross negligence and consumed by guilt, Jaume cuts off all contact with Mia. When he get out of prison he never returns to the village.

Second decade of 2000s. Mia is a shy woman who lives with the only company of her dog Lluna. In her house there is a presence, a bad vibe that only her neighbor Neus will be able to expel for she is gifted. Neus’s daughter, Cristina, who used to observe Mia and Jaume when they went on their walks, is back in town after some years away and will try to help Mia exit the hole she has voluntarily locked herself up in all these years. One night where he has drunk too much at the bar where he works as a cook, Jaume runs over a venison with his car. When he realizes that the animal is still alive, he feels the impulse to go back to Matavaques to finally talk to Mia.

With an overflowing and contagious energy, Solà has written a tight novel with a beautiful prose full of textures and a daring game of points of views.

"Irene Solà's book grabs you through a combination of intensity and talent as well as great irreverence and courage to use tradition and put it at the service of a modern literary approach." – Sergi Pàmies

"The future is Irene Solà looking into the past" – Marta Orriols, author of Aprender a hablar con las plantas

"You don't leave this book the same way you came into it. And you don't leave easily: the traces it leaves are lasting, perhaps indelible." Inma Monsó

"The joy of storytelling triumphs throughout her work, the happiness of discovering what happens during the act of narration in itself...Thanks to her honesty and expressive rigor." Ponç Puigdevall, El País

"I welcome the first Catalan writer born in the 90's who deserves applause due to necessity, and not paternalism." Vicenç Pagès Jordà, El Periódico

"A wonder." Montse Virgili, Catalunya Ràdio

"A fantastic novel, in every sense of the word. A tremendously poetic story in which tragedy and redemption go hand in hand. Irene Solà is a very young author who is very much worthwhile." –Oscar López, A vivir que son dos días, Cadena Ser

"Canto jo i la muntanya balla is luminous and exciting (...) it is a confirmation of narrative talent, study, composition, and lyrical force (...) Solà blends history, legend, reality, literature: everything is transformed into flesh and blood" –Julià Guillamon, La Vanguardia


Irene Solà

Irene Solà (Malla, Spain, 1990) has published the novel Els dics (L’Altra Editorial, Premio Documenta 2017) and the book of poems Bèstia (Galerada Edicions, Premio Amadeu Oller 2012), translated into English as Beast (Shearsman Books, 2017). She is part of the anthologies Mig segle de poesia catalana, del Maig del 68 al 2018, edited by Vicenç Altaió and Josep M. Sala-Valldaura (Edicions 62); Wretched Strangers, edited by JT Welsch and Ágnes Lehóczky (Boiler House Press), and 33 poetes de menys de 35, edited by Josep Pedrals (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). She has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona and a Masters in Literature, Film and Visual Culture from Sussex University.  Solà has been a writer-in-residence at George Mason University in Virginia in October 2018, and has been one of the artists selected by the Barcelona Producció-La Capella program in 2017. She has also received a Literary Creation Grant from the Government of Catalonia, the Young Art Grant 2015 and the City of Vic. Her texts and works have been exhibited and read at the Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona, the Whitechapel Gallery (London), Bòlit (Girona), MAC (Mataró), at Jerwood Arts (London), and at the International Poetry Festival of Sant Cugat, the Fiesta de la Poesía in Sitges or the Festival Poesía i +, mong others. Her work has also appeared in the maganizes Poetari, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, Time Out, Granta Magazine and Murder Magazine.

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