The Speed of Light by Javier Cercas (Translated by Anne McLean) - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

Friends, Fame, and War

The Speed of Light


Bloomsbury 288pp £14.99

Javier Cercas's first novel, Soldiers of Salamis, addressed the moral confusion of the Spanish Civil War and how it scarred a generation for life. The book was a deserved success and went on to become an international bestseller. His second novel, The Speed of Light, tackles a different conflict, the Vietnam War, and how it affected a generation of idealist Americans in the 1960s.

The story starts off in the 1980s when our young Spanish narrator accepts a teaching post in Urbana in the American Midwest. He tries to impress his new colleagues by rubbishing the films of Pedro Almodóvar (‘Frankly, I think they're a bunch of queer crap’) only to discover that his

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