Manuel Rivas is Galicia’s most international writer. He has published eight books in English: four novels, two poetry collections and two books of short stories (one a film tie-in, Butterfly’s Tongue). His novel The Carpenter’s Pencil, which has also been made into a film, is the most widely translated work of Galician literature and has been translated into thirty languages. His most recent novel, also a film, is All Is Silence, which was published by Harvill Secker in May 2013. With his book of short stories Vermeer’s Milkmaid & Other Stories, he won the Spanish National Prize for Literature in 1996. He works as a journalist and is a regular contributor to El País.
Photograph © Xurxo Lobato
ONE MILLION COWS synopsis
One Million Cows (104 pages) is a book of eighteen short stories which won the Spanish Critics’ Prize in 1989. It is considered a foundational work with an important influence on the direction taken by modern Galician literature, and is one of only a handful of books by Manuel Rivas yet to be translated into English.
ONE MILLION COWS
Gaby, Gabriela, is older than me. I think she’s a lot older. Two years, at least. After such a long time, I wasn’t expecting to find her in the village, in Aita, but there she was, sitting languidly on the Brandarices’ stone bench, in between two geranium pots.
‘How are things?’
‘Good. And you?’
‘Good. Excellent. Actually, terrible.’
In reality, she was a lot older than me. Three years, perhaps.
‘You’ve got thinner.’
‘You’ve got thinner as well.’
She was wearing a long skirt, and her feet were bare. They were the large feet of a man.
‘You’ve been away.’
‘I might also be leaving.’
‘Yeah. I’m also leaving. I’m thinking of going on a trip. But far away, you know? To Australia or somewhere like that.’