Spanish/English Book/Audiobook for retured literature-lover
March 7, 2011 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Foreign Literature filter: Non-depressing but non-dumb novel/other literature in written English, written Spanish and Audiobook (either/both languages).

I have an english relative who is a retired university-level teacher in european spanish literature; she also speaks french, portugese and hebrew fluently. She's in her late 80s and by herself, and quite lonely. Her eyesight is good but not great, same with her hearing. She is quite picky; she has a withering wit and suffers fools not gladly.

I'd like to send her a non-insulting but non-depressing literary gift in both reasonably large type (but not for the blind!) Spanish and English and also the same in audiobook form. Either european or southern american spanish is fine.

E.g. I know she'd love things like Vargas Llosa in her younger days, but I don't really want to send her depressing torture-and corruption tales. I also don't want to send her something superdense like may depress her that she hasn't the stamina to wade through that kind of work. Similarly I don't want to send her something dumbed down.

Any suggestions?
posted by lalochezia to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am guessing that she has probably read a lot of the big names in Latin American and Spanish literature, so I won't go down that road. And then other names popped up, but she might perhaps find them a little bit too fluffy? It's hard to say without more info on her tastes, what she's enjoyed in the past, etc.

I will suggest La casa de la laguna, by a Puerto Rican writer names Rosario Ferré. She's known in Latin American literature but I wouldn't be surprised if your aunt hasn't read her yet. (Here's a link to Amazon's English translation to get an idea of what it's about). I think of it as "smart fiction" - it's not there to explore large philosophical or social questions, but it does deal with class and social issues of a place she might not know much about.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:25 PM on March 7, 2011

....and I see that you perhaps want the book both in print and audiobook? If so, apologies, I don't think the book I mentioned is in audiobook format.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:37 PM on March 7, 2011

Best answer: This is a challenging question. If she hasn't read all of Mario Vargas Llosa's novels, I'd highly recommend Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter because it isn't depressing, but in fact hilarious. However, I'm not sure you can legally download an audiobook of it in English or Spanish (torrent sites might be an option).

I'd also recommend Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas, but alas no large print or audiobooks. Maybe the only useful thing I can add is that The Complete Review does categorize all of their reviews by language/nationality so that you can easily browse reviews of books translated from Spanish. Do you want audiobook downloads or CDs?
posted by mattbucher at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for these suggestions: CDs definitely.....
posted by lalochezia at 1:23 PM on March 7, 2011

You can also browse Audiobook CDs on Amazon. For example, here is an audiobook (in English) of a newish translation of Don Quixote. ABE allows you to browse or search used audiobooks (those CDs are expensive!) and used large print books. Good luck!
posted by mattbucher at 1:52 PM on March 7, 2011

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