La vida amarga / Life Embitters
Journalistic Work , 1957
A book of stories, or “narrations,” by the finest Catalan writer of his generation. In this beautiful work, Pla transcribes his witnessings of basic truths: the waves of the sea, the hardness of rolled tobacco. The reader feels tangibly the pleasure with which Pla puts the sensual and real on paper.
“Moving around the capitals of Europe in a time of depression and unremitting melancholy, Pla often serves up small moments of perhaps unintentional brilliance […] Students of Orwell’s journalism and of Kapuscinski will be glad to discover Pla, whose melancholy resembles that of his contemporary Stefan Zweig—and for some of the same reasons.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Pla’s book of “narrations” shows us why this Catalan writer is considered the “finest…of his generation.” Each narrative piece is like a still-life, focusing on the tangible and memorable things of this world. Pla invites us to share his perspective on the complexity and sensuality of our surroundings.” — Book Riot
“Pla has often been compared with the great Joseph Roth – they were both astute witnesses of their respective worlds… Outstanding.” — Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
“Life Embitters, probably the best book in Josep Pla’s vast body of work, is a literary feast which combines all his best qualities at once: the sharpness of the journalist, the modern style of the novelist, and the insight and lucidity of the autobiographer. Through these stories, Pla distills the experiences of a young man traveling around a dramatically changing Europe. This is the book I recommend whenever someone asks me about Catalan literature.” — Jordi Punti, translator and author of Lost Luggage