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Books of the year: vote good, vote bad

A list with the books of the year is not made with impunity. It has its consequences. Some predictable; others, less. Among the first stands out the one that responds to what we could call the “Vargas Llosa doctrine”: voting well, voting poorly. The important thing is not that the elections are free and clean like a brand-new Excel, but to vote well. Not that there is a broad and equal jury, but to vote well. Not that there are works signed by women who write in Spanish, but to vote well, that is, for Spanish women, that nationalism is not at odds with feminism! Otherwise, parity is an alibi. Didn't they warn that allowing women to vote would only serve to manipulate them? One day hunger will end in the world and the only thing we will achieve is to encourage captive voting in Ethiopia. In short: “voting well is voting like … me.” The same people who argue that there is no reliable selection because the spectrum of what is published is endless rush, all-encompassing, to point out that this title is unnecessary and this other is missing.

Among the unpredictable consequences of making lists are more momentous. When Babelia , Newsfresh's cultural supplement, published its 2021 summary 10 days ago, the newspaper's social media department suggested that the editorial staff give a hand to readers who want to give away a book but they don't know which one. Among the inquiries that came there were many curious ones (“about Bilbao in the eighties”, “with a dazzling ending”, “for someone who doesn't read”) and a definitive one: “That I can read my dad with Alzheimer's.”

Impossible not to think about the old ideal of Peter Handke: to write something that a person locked up against their will does not find ridiculous. Enclosed even in her own brain. It is impossible not to remember Wilde, sentenced to two years for being a homosexual, reading Treasure Island in Reading jail . Or Cosme Delclaux, 232 days kidnapped by ETA, reading Pasionaria and the seven dwarfs . Alice Munro included in Hate, friendship, courtship, love, marriage a beautiful story about Alzheimer's that Sarah Polley turned into a film ( Far from her ), but the subject, I suppose, would say little to a sick person. What to read to him? And what to write for that occasion? Not a bad challenge for a literary workshop. Will there be a book capable of such a question? I have already started a list to leave my children. This time I will vote well.

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