Eros and Thanatos, Thanatos and Eros. Love, desire, death… are universal themes that have served to tell wonderful stories throughout the history of literature. We can give examples: Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Moby Dick… They were works of the past, they have survived to the present day using the same themes. It’s not a thematic question of seeking originality, everything is invented, the approach that can lead us to a more or less authentic story. The way the truth is told, how the story is executed or the correct use of narrative mechanisms is what makes a work outstanding.
Published by the Alicante publishing house Mankell, Enrique Botella’s Escarcha en el pelo is a novel whose original approach has kept us hooked from the start. Bottle, a lawyer by profession, exposes us to a moral debate in this novel. He uses his knowledge of the legal system to show us a reality that can happen to any of us. The synopsis itself gives us a clue: “Prestigious criminal lawyer Pablo Arce, after a traumatic loss, had decided to quit everything and retire to write in a house by the sea. Nothing could have predicted that years later, he would return to court to defend his teenage crush, Raquel Montero, who is now accused of murdering her emotional partner by assisted suicide. With wounds that don’t heal and ghosts far present, Arce will have to solve a question that has tormented him for years: What should you do if the woman you love asks you to kill her?
Clearly, the Spanish judicial system has nothing to do with the American judicial system, where the sensationalism is not in the law or the judiciary, but in the use of Bottle’s language. The book is a journey into the emotions of the characters, the story, an excuse to delve into the thorny and current issues of euthanasia and the punishment of its practice; but in addition, Enrique touches on issues such as the consequences of dictatorships on people or how women and homosexuals were treated so long ago when Spain lived under the Franco regime.
Enrique Botella (Alicante, 1960) is a lawyer, lecturer and columnist; He has collaborated with various media and law journals and for several years taught the Theory-Practice Workshop “Performance of the lawyer in the proceedings before the jury court”. He is the author of the short stories Espuma de Mar (José Ferrer Prize 2011) and Aroma de Cerezas (2020), and the novels En la memoria del viento (2004) and El silencio y el mar (2018, Novel of the Azorín finalist). Award 2016).
Escarcha en el pelo is not a purely judicial or legal novel. It is also, or so I understand, the author’s reckoning with matters that concern him. The strength of this novel lies in language. The bottle guides us through the thorny issue of euthanasia, but the power of words or narrative captures us. Having already deceived us with El silencio y el mar, this author comes back forcefully to tell us how love can change our lives.