SPAIN BOOK REVIEW: ‘City of Sorrows’ by Susan Nadathur

CITY OF SORROWS is an emotionally intense story about how relationships can get complicated, and how life is not always the way we want it to be . . . Under normal circumstances, they never would have met. Andres is a wealthy Spaniard, Diego a poor Gypsy, Rajiv an Indian immigrant. On a dark road outside the city of Seville, the lives of these three men come crashing together. One man’s anger leads to an unthinkable act, triggering another man’s obsession and forcing the third to negotiate his way through the underside of life. The choices they make ripple outward, throwing not only their lives, but an entire city, into turmoil and change. A devastating loss. A dangerous obsession. CITY OF SORROWS is an epic story of love, death, romance and rage. About what controls us . . . and the choices we must make to be free.

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As a fan of the city of Seville, I jumped at the chance to read some Spain-based fiction. This book brings together three very different men on a path that could either save or destroy them.

The main protagonist is Diego, a young Gypsy living on the edge of poverty in Seville. We meet Diego young and married, with a seventeen-year-old wife who is already six months pregnant. The naivety and youth is a mix for a fun new relationship but their tale is not a happy one. When disaster befalls the young couple, the entire city of Seville burns with rage as racism between Spaniards and Gypsies literally ignites. Diego’s life falls to awful lows filled with crime and revenge, which could end him.

Diego crosses paths with Andres, a rich young Spaniard, and not a character many could indulge or come to like. Andres’ hatred of Gypsies, born out of a cliché and unfair stereotype in his own head, leads him to make a simple yet cruel decision that costs someone their life. Andres is mean, tortured, racist and lazy, and while he tried is best to redeem himself through the guise of caring for his young sister Adela, it can be hard to not wish Andres would step in front of a bus.

A third man, Rajiv, a young Indian fresh in the city of Seville, is a wholly likable character. I live in an Indian community, all those who have emigrated for a new life, and the story of this man mimics one of so many real people in the world. He is kind, intelligent and good in the face of all that troubles him – mostly Andres, who he is forced to work with and help. Rajiv is on a different path in life to the other two men in the book, yet their stories weave together in the heartache that swirls through Seville.

Susan Nadathur has done a wonderful job at creating characters that both endear and infuriate, and it shows the divide between Spaniards and Gypsies in Spain. It shows how three different men from three different walks of life and effect, hurt and save one another, as well as explaining the inside details of Gypsy life. As chapters flip between the point of view of each man, one cannot help but want to turn the pages to see where their favourite character ends up next.

Learn more about Susan Nadathur here

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