La forastera / The Stranger
Novel , 2020
A contemporary western set in the rugged, unforgiving territory of rural Spain. A thrilling story about human resilience.
For the locals, Angie is the village crazy lady. She lives isolated and alone in the country, surrounded by ghosts who torment her with childhood memories of a poor working-class neighbourhood in Barcelona and a passionate love affair in her youth with an artist from London.
One morning, Angie discovers the lifeless body of the local landowner hanging from the branch of a walnut tree. This news endangers her own land and the future of the entire village. In her struggle to keep what’s hers, Angie uncovers a series of secrets deeply buried in that land. This leads to a liberating realisation: once you lose everything, they can’t take anything away from you. And then you’re invincible.
“A harsh rural story… literarily exuberant.” Berna G. Harbour, El País
“A novel as tough and essential as the rugged terrain where it sinks its roots.” Elena Hevia, El Periódico de Cataluña
“A mixture of western and rural thriller, the story of a woman stronger than the world she lives in.” Marta García Miranda, Cadena Ser
“Olga Merino's prose has a rough touch, without frills or excesses. Her language is forceful, like the main character, and through her words we sense the earth and the wine, see the colours of the sky, and also those of loneliness. Pain and death, memory and identity are interwoven in this novel, which also leads us to the abysses that some people stand on the edge of. A story with wounds that open up right before us, through the body and the words, to speak to us of the ability to resist and about the different ways in which we can face our demons in order to find our place in the world.” Inés Macpherson, La Vanguardia
“A dark western, without hope, without compassion. Olga Merino creates one of those unforgettable characters that every writer dreams of constructing. Mark my words, it`s magnificent.” Salvador Alemany, Moon Magazine
“Olga Merino immerses us in a tough, rough, claustrophobic world of direct and concealed violence, with a twilight aftertaste served in realistic style.” Carmen R. Santos, ABC
“A rural western in a timeless Andalusia.” Ignacio Martínez de Pisón
“... a work that is more closely related to the ruralism of Miguel Delibes or the brutal realism of Camilo José Cela than the duels at Oakley Hall or the deserts of Cormac McCarthy. […] A rural novel that combines the aesthetics of Intemperie, by Jesús Carrasco, with the political vindication of Tierra de Mujeres, by María Sánchez. Merino shows us the difficulties faced by women in order to survive in a rough rural world controlled by men. Merino shows us the reality of a town where women and immigrants share the same social condition: pariahs of the soil.” Álvaro Colomer, Ara Llegim
“La forastera meets several challenges. The most important of all is that it shuns ruralism, even when the novel transits that landscape. […] Olga Merino leaves the mark of her narrative art, and does so with a turbid story where the most transparent thing is its luminous maladaptation. […] The beginning of the novel, eleven lines for inclusion in an anthology of the best beginnings to a novel.” J. Ernesto Ayala-Dip, Babelia – El País
“Olga Merino has transcended the neo-rural narrative trend and engendered a magnificent novel. As in the case of its central character, redeemed from a bitter past, more springs will come.” Domingo Ródenas de Moya, El Periódico
“ Entertaining and absorbing ... with an absolutely precise use of the Spanish language." Marta Sanz, Babelia, El País
“I read it in one sitting and then regretted having finished it. [...] I can guarantee it’s written with no holds barred, with a very real anger and rebelliousness and a direct knowledge of the setting in which the story takes place [...]. Read this book.” Carme Riera (National Literature Prize), La Vanguardia
“Olga Merino comes to show us that predatory human devastation is no longer only external. Rather, if it does anything it shakes the very foundations of the inner self, of our essence as living beings.” El Mundo
“A prodigious novel which appeals to the reader’s five senses. [...] A novel that provokes physical sensations and in which [...] Spain comes together with the most apocalyptic neo-western. Olga Merino has created her own world in the style of Cormac McCarthy, but it is completely personal.” Jesús Lens, Ideal de Granada
“A twilight story [...] as arid and raw as the landscape in which it takes place. And to a large extent the characters that populate it end up being the same. Thus, Olga Merino has inscribed herself – with her own personality, without a doubt – in a current of rural literature that has its origins in Miguel Delibes, Julio Llamazares and Jesús Moncada. [...].” Carlos Bravo Suárez, Diario del Alto Aragón
“240 pages of compulsive reading and an angular storyline where the veiled paths reveal a sole truth: that there are no dreams to be salvaged, only the courage of resistance.” Cristina, Abrir un libro
“An arid landscape that seems to reflect the moral devastation of some of the characters. Local strongmen, shotguns, flea-bitten dogs, outlaws, olive trees, absolutely forbidden love affairs, property wars and, above all, suicides.” Xavi Ayén, La Vanguardia
“A rural western in a timeless Andalusia by a writer who knows very well how to alternate journalism and literature.” Antón Castro, Heraldo de Aragón
“Part western, part thriller, in these times of confinement this is a story in praise of loneliness, of being by oneself despite being surrounded by people [...].” Marta García, La Hora Extra (Cadena Ser)