HERRALDE NOVEL PRIZE 2014
A man and a woman tell the story of their lives. Claudio is Cuban, lives in New York and works at a publishing house. Cecilia is Mexican, lives in Paris and is a student. He holds onto memories of his past in Havana and the pain of the loss of his first girlfriend as well as his complicated relationship with Ruth. She remembers her tough teenage years, and now her friend Haydée encourages her to get rid of those fears and start enjoying her life. Cecilia has a relationship with Tom, a boy of frail health who shares her fondness of walking in cemeteries.
During a trip to Paris Claudio and Cecilia’s destinies collide. As both characters describe their daily lives in detail in Paris and New York, their neuroses, passions, phobias, and past that has shaped their fears, surface. They explain how they met and the circumstances that made them like each other, to love each other and even to hate each other intermittently.
With an acute style and wit, After the Winter, at times humorous and sometimes touching, explains how love relationships function. The novel has also a soundtrack which includes Nick Drake, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett or Las horas by Philip Glass add music to the pages where not only happiness and pain can be felt, but also the feeling of facing death and new life, and the acknowledgment of the idea that life goes on and cannot be stopped. Claudio and Celia’s love story is part of a bigger story, which represents an important period in their lives. Each follows a path marked by encounters and absences, doubts and the search for certainty, guided by their desires and sorrows. Circumstances immerse them both into the depths of their psyche in order to find the key of how to deal not only with others but also with themselves, and if possible, to find their own oasis of happiness.
Guadalupe Nettel’s novel is forthright, ambitious and unusual. It digs into the universe of those who live on the fringe, in bewilderment and unconformity. With this book Nettel becomes one of the essentials voices of contemporary Latin American Literature.
«Don´t take your eyes of this writer, because the recurrent description of her as a `sensation of Latin American literature´ has the aroma of truth about it… When you realise that you carry the dead inside you, one wants to read more by Guadalupe Nettel; which, I suppose, is the best thing you can say about a writer and a literary adventure… Nettel knows what she is capable of doing, and she puts petals and thorns on every rose. Passions, phobias and fears cause the characters to impact against each other, as if they were billiard balls. Suddenly a spark of tenderness, desire and passion appears… All described with a lot of talent. With words that breathe and characters that rise off the page, as well ghosts that live within them (like Vallejo or Cortázar in Paris), everything is twisted and personal, typical of the world of Nettel, whichonly she knows… A book that creates a disturbing and terrifying effect on the reader, almost like a walk on a rainy day in a graveyard» (Carlos Zanón, El País).
«Without any morbidity, she weaves a story of troubled sentimentality,c arrying with it a wise combination of emotional suspense and dramatic adversities… An excellent novel» (Ángeles López, La Razón).
«Nettel hasstopped being one of the best kept secrets of contemporary Mexican literature to become a writer who has managed to build a completely personal world, which draws from the disturbing, from the strange–call it: the nebulous– fromthe frozen whisper of an imperfect and painful reality, where failure and death become a mapthat must be followed» (Ricardo Baixeras, El Periódico).
«Love, illness, death, abandonment and re-encounters accompany us throughout a novel that is narrated with a calmness that underlines–like silence– the intensity of feelings that end up overwhelming us» (J. A. Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia).
«Nettel has cast her incisive vision on the biggest of the mysteries that govern us: relationships. Claudio, a Cuban, and Cecilia, a Mexican, meet in Paris and an exploration full of pleasures and shadows emerges» (Antonio Lozano, S Moda).
«Her novels constitute an epic of life, while accepting the final desolation of defeat. Después del invierno is the culmination of this epic, a melody of the melancholy of living, whose emblem is recognisable in a short quote from the Peruvian Julio Ramón Ribeyro, who appearsin many pages of the novel: “imperfect beings in an imperfect world, we are destined to find only crumbs of happiness... The meaning of life can be encountered in Vallejo´s poetry, in the sound of the trumpet on Miles Davis´s Kind of Blue, orin the piano on Keith Jarrett´s Dark Intervals, as crumbs of happiness secretly reached» (Arturo García Ramos, ABC).
«It is important to point out the spontaneous freshness of the prose, and the fine descriptions of the two cities, New York and Paris, which are its settings» (Santiago Aiznara, El Diario Vasco).
«A compassionately written portrait of urban loneliness and the human impulse to belong» (Kirkus Review).
«Nettel’s sharp, potent novel depicts how even the briefest relationship can affect the rest of a life» (Publishers Weekly).
Guadalupe Nettel was born in Mexico in 1973 and grew up between Mexico and France. She obtained a PhD in linguistics from the EHESS in Paris. She is the author of the international award winning novels El huésped (2006), The body Where I was Born (2011) and After the Winter (2014, Herralde Novel Prize). She has also published three collections of short stories: Les jours fossils (2002), Pétalos y otras historias incómodas (2008), Natural Histories (2013, Ribera del Duero Prize). In 2008 she was named by the Hay Festival as one of the more promising Latin American authors.
Her work has been translated into more than seventeen languages and has appeared in publications such as Granta, The White Review, El País, The New York Times in Spanish,La Repubblica and La Stampa, among many others. She currently lives in Mexico City where she’s the director of the magazine Revista de la Universidad de México.