10:00 pm, June 15, 2022
To change lives. City resident Natalia moved to La Escapa. The small village of La Rioja, not far from Petacas, is located in the north of the peninsula. The former commercial translator wanted to continue literary translation work in the countryside. He wants to escape the city, to forget the past. He left his post after making a mistake. Isn’t violence everywhere? The rented house he was riding in had a lot of leaks and cracks. The owner threatened even a little with his criticisms. Natalia wants a dog. The young woman inherited a terrifying and wild beast.
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Around him, an elderly couple, a troubled glass craftsman, a family with children. One day, Andreas shows up. We called him “the German”. Andreas offers her a barter: prostitution for roof repairs. The proposal is simple, clean, square. White emotions. Without aggression. He said: “I’ll fix the tiles if in return I’ll let you in for a while. » We are in pure sexual desire. Natalia refused and then accepted.
A tragedy will ensue
Un amour was named best book of the year by El País, La Vanguardia, El Correo. The novelist Sara Mesa was born in 1976 in Madrid. The author of Scar (Rivages, 2017) talks about sex, language, desire. Natalia struggled with the words. How to translate. How to interpret what we say, what we feel, what others say, what others feel. Male ownership and domination is central to the story. Natalia is a sad one. Andreas entered his body with his permission, the owner entered his house without permission. Uncontrollable desire invaded Natalia relentlessly. Men have always found her cool. Sex has long been second to him. A pleasant and second job, which he could easily have done without. Her uncontrollable body struggled to release day and night. There, Natalia finds herself hungry for sex.
The 30-something restores the house, tries to keep the mad dog alive, puts up his literature translation to take care of an elderly couple. The scene is rather dry. Oaks, olives, cistus. In the distance, a small mountain of trees and bushes. Residents brought rabbits and partridges. La Escapa is made up of a few houses in the middle left. Natalia was a woman, a resident of the city, in her thirties. He would make trouble, even to himself. The newcomer rediscovered what he had fled: the perspective of others. The villagers don’t like it. He was unmarried, he had no children and, worse, he had no intention of having. If we talk about the education system, he does not report on the subject. His way of life seemed disgusting to them. His silence was filled with their noises. In boredom, we look for conflict. We were spying on each other, we were hurting each other. Rumors simmered in the heat of the night, ready to explode like a storm in the sky. Everything is in place in a world of impulses. A tragedy will ensue.
Victims and executioners
The writing is crystal clear. The clarity of the words versus the opacity of the feelings. We talked humiliation by JM Coetzee to stir up the heavy and chaotic universe ofA love by Sarah Mesa. Spain and South Africa have a common quest for an uncomfortable sense of wonder. A dangerous universe where victims become executioners, where the persecuted become persecutors. Natalia entered “a distant now, incomprehensible and painful world” with Andreas. She was twelve years younger than him. They are not the same. Sex removes boundaries, but to recreate others. The walls are burning.
Natalia has to heal from a childhood injury and an adult mistake. Sara Mesa’s novels revolve around guilt. Let’s forgive. Natalia went to the countryside hoping to change things in life. He was trying to repair the broken house and to educate the stray dog. The young woman needs a strong roof and a loving companion. Nor will it be given to him. He wanted to be welcomed, he remained involved. Words don’t help. We don’t speak the same language. Normality remains apparent. Desire and love, destiny and opportunity. The road is paved. Finally, peace.
A love, Sara Mesa. Translation Delphine Valentin, Grasset, 205 pages, 19.50 euros.