James Manresa Paddon is an Anglo-Catalan writer and translator who also works as a second officer on a rescue vessel off the Scottish coast. He recently (12/11/13) sent me this report on SNUG, the first book of mine he’d read in English.
I finished reading Snug and I can say I enjoyed it very much. Your style is much different from many of the English novels I have read before. I find it very personal, blending the telling of the story with the inner thoughts of the characters in such a way, that one gets to think he has known them personally for years. Each of them breathe in their own way, some transpiring their racism, others their teenage discovery of life and others losing their innocence about the world. I confess at the same time it made me regret not having been more skilled in the language of the country which saw me born. As I said to you one day, although I read a lot in English, I lack the richness of the everyday-slang, the expressions, the sayings and the details that only a complete immersion can provide, as you well know as a brilliant writer in Catalan, an originally foreign language to you. Precisely this was one of the reasons I was so much in to Snug, as it allowed me to “live” in this world of details and words in English I have lacked because of living in Catalonia since I was a kid. It has enlightened me over the richness of the language I ought to know and it has proved you have finally been capable of making it malleable —a condition you declared in the past English seemed to lack— to a surprising extent. Apart from the language (sorry I am not talking about the story, but I enjoy the bricks which it is built with as much as the story itself), the story gripped me from the beginning, I liked especially how you masterly managed to solve all the apparent difficulties as to give credit to the story, when it is an apparently improbable situation. I believed everything as it had really happened and you also made me look into an Atlas to find out more about Africa and it’s history. Snug abducted me, I found myself thinking about Lucy, Dr Whitebone or the fate of Coldwater Bay mixed with my real day to day worries, I loved the twists and turns of it and I even read on the ship where I work, laying in bed seasick while 10 meters waves were rocking us furiously, unable to let go of the bloody book despite my wretched state. I find it a privilege and a very interesting experience to be able to enjoy the two versions of the same writer, I knew you in Catalan, and now in English. Congratulations, I’ll be waiting for your next one!