Of Saints and Miracles
by Manuel Astur
Marcelino lives alone on his parents’ farm, set deep in the beautiful but impoverished countryside of Asturias, northern Spain. It’s the place where he grew up, where he doted on his beloved baby brother, where he protected his mother from his father’s drunken rages. But when Marcelino’s brother tricks him out of his land and home, a moment of uncontrolled anger sparks a chain of events that can’t be reversed. Marcelino flees into the wild peaks, dense woods and abandoned villages that surround his home, becoming a cult hero as he evades the authorities.
Into this unconventional thriller, Astur weaves fables about the sun and the moon, tales of death and love, and reveals a community and a way of life that may soon be lost. Of Saints and Miracles is a sensuous and poetic portrayal of an outcast’s struggle to survive in a changing world, and a seamless blend of the tragic and the majestic.
192pp, paperback with flaps, £12.99
Publication date: 6 July 2022
Press & Reviews
‘Meticulous and vivid ... mesmerising.’ - Asymptote
‘Melancholic and somewhat unnerving … a beautiful book.’ - European Literature Network
‘An astonishing novel ... that marks Astur out as a novelist of unique brilliance.’- Lunate
'Astur has penned a wild novel, from which you emerge revived and enriched, as if after meditating.'- GQ Magazine
‘This beautiful, thought-provoking, and haunting novel, which is captivating in its poetic portrayal of a rural tragedy, reminds us that everything is a miracle.' - World Literature Today
'Of Saints and Miracles defies easy description. What it absolutely does do, though, is pull the reader into a distinctive world all of its own . . . Structurally, it’s fascinating: one narrative thread is picked up, and then another, then another, and so on, before going back to the first thread and carrying on with it, rather like a braid with added coloured ribbons.' - The Spanish Riveter: Writing from Spain
'An unforgettable and lyrical portrait of a time and region where saints and miracles once flourished.' - Lucy Popescu, The Tablet
‘Astur takes the narrative to a series of strange places, some folkloric and some horrific ... Ambitious and unpredictable—the best kind of new spin on a timeless story.’ - Words Without Borders
‘This is a fierce, passionate book - at home in every genre because it knows that great fiction does not need to choose between them. Manuel Astur's writing moves between high lyricism and hard, stony realism, and Of Saints and Miracles has a style all of its own. Thanks to Claire Wadie's rigorous yet resourceful translation, this essential Spanish novel, with its compelling characters, histories and landscapes, is available to the anglophone reader in all its magic, tenderness and brutality.’ - Patrick McGuinness, prizewinning author of Throw Me to the Wolves and The Last Hundred Days
‘This is the tale of a natural loner of immense gifts and vision – like Coetzee's Michael K – and is unlike any book I've read, by an author who seems enviably free: to stretch the limits of genres by blending fable and crime fiction; to tell a story at his own pace, in exquisite detail and from a rich choral perspective; and to show the magical to be mundane and the mundane to be magical. It's an extraordinary feat of writing, as is Claire Wadie's impeccable translation.’ - Sophie Hughes, translator of Hurricane Season and Paradais by Fernanda Melchor
‘With a sensuous style that produces an almost physical effect, Astur plays with time, earth and violence, weaving together a plot that finds its logic in disorder, like every real tragedy.’ - ABC Cultural
‘Spanish author Astur blends myth, meditation, and storytelling in his first book to appear in English ... Evocative ... Luminous ... Great reading for lovers of the mythopoetic.’ - Library Journal
'This literary novel has the seal of determined originality, and is the admirable work of an author worth following.’ - El Cultural
About The Book
Claire Wadie taught French and Spanish in secondary schools for many years, and now teaches English for a London-based charity which helps refugees and other new immigrants to the UK. She has a Masters in Translation from the University of Bristol, and her translations have been published in online literary magazines. She is the winner of the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize 2021. Of Saints and Miracles is her first full-length literary translation.