Marilar Aleixandre is professor of experimental sciences at the University of Santiago de Compostela. She is the author of several collections of poetry and adult and young adult fiction. She has written four novels and a collection of short stories, Wolves on the Islands. Her novel Theory of Chaos received the Xerais Prize for best novel in 2001. Two poetry collections were awarded top prizes, including Mutations, a recreation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses written in the voices of women. She has written several novels for children, including Medusa’s Head, and is the Galician translator of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Photograph © Manuel G. Vicente
THE KNIFE IN NOVEMBER synopsis
The Knife in November (272 pages) is described by the Galician publisher as a novel, but it is really a collection of interconnected stories along the lines of Ovid’s Metamorphoses or the One Thousand and One Nights. Many of the stories are set during the time of Franco’s dictatorship and detail events from murder to fishing to getting caught in a snow storm. The result is a text that boasts a fluent narrative and evocative references.
THE KNIFE IN NOVEMBER
DEATH IN THE CHEST
‘Across that stream, there’s a cave,’ declared Marcos, pointing to a slope covered in heather and broom. We’d been walking for almost two hours, and these must have been the first words he’d said.
‘A cave of badgers?’ I asked.
‘Of badgers or of men.’
He fell silent, and I didn’t dare ask anything else. He’d never talked to me about his relations with members of the Maquis, if he had any. Up until then, I’d doubted whether it wasn’t just some local gossip. True, he did disappear for days, but I was fifteen years old and was too concerned with my own affairs to worry about the presence or absence of others. Now I think he was starting to feed me information in case one day I had to end up doing the same as him.
The snow, so white, is treacherous. It can be a new sheet flapping in the wind. Or a shroud. But death isn’t always announced and, even when it is, we don’t always understand the signs.
My uncle had one obsession that autumn: to hunt down the boar. It had ruined the crops in the summer, digging up the soil between the potatoes, rummaging with its lively snout. It was the middle of November, the birches had lost their leaves. Why he hadn’t gone after it at the start of the hunting season, why he’d had to wait until November, when it was already cold, is something I cannot explain. There may have been a reason and, with the passing of time, I’ve forgotten.