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Aub's powerful coming-of-age novel (originally published in 1943) is set during the years leading up to the Spanish Civil War and follows a young man's bewildering political enlightenment as he moves from the Spanish provinces to Barcelona and is caught up in mutinous antigovernment factions. Aub-who was born to German parents, brought up in Spain, then fled the country upon Franco's ascendancy-creates an intricate tapestry of Spanish society, beginning in the Aragon region near Valencia, where protagonist Rafael Lopez Serrador grows up on a farm. The boy becomes a jeweler's apprentice and embroils himself in an affair with an older widow before heading to Barcelona to seek his fortune in the spring of 1929. Here, the novel explodes with the sights and smells of the teeming Catalan city, where Serrador falls in with a left-wing crowd while sorting through his own politics. The violence begins to sicken and corrupt Serrador, and the novel closes to one day's paroxysm of mayhem that engulfs Barcelona. The first in a six-book series, this immersive narrative, fluidly translated, is accessible and gripping. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.