Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: March 7, 2023
by Camilo José Cela, translated from the Spanish by James Womack
An NYRB Classics Original
The March 2023 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club
The translator Anthony Kerrigan compared Camilo José Cela, the 1989 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, to Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Curzio Malaparte—all “ferocious writers, truculent, badly spoken, even foulmouthed.” However provocative and disturbing, Cela’s novels are also flat-out dazzling, their sentences as rigorous as they are riotous, lodging like knives in the reader’s mind. Cela called himself a proponent of “uglyism,” of “nothingism.” But he has the knack, to quote another critic, Américo Castro, of deploying those “nothings and lacks” to construct beauty.
The Hive is set over the course of a few days in the Madrid of 1943, not long after the end of the Spanish Civil War, when the regime of General Francisco Franco was at its most oppressive. The book includes more than three hundred characters whose comings and goings it tracks to hypnotic effect. Scabrous, scandalous, and profane, The Hive is a virtuosic group portrait of a wounded and sick society.