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All That Followed by Gabriel Urza

All That Followed

by Gabriel Urza

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Following the Atocha train bombings in Madrid, a group of young men in the Basque country of Spain band together to commit minor acts of disruption, vandalism, and violence that fall close to, but don't quite cross the line into terrorism. Eventually that line is crossed and there is a death and an arrest but Is the right person behind bars? Patriotism, love, and betrayal are examined from several points of view. A good story, wrapped in recent history. ( )
  seeword | Jan 25, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
All that Followed tells the story, over several years of the interactions of three very different people with each other and their small town in the Basque country in Spain. This is the debut novel from Mr. Uzra, although he has written a number of published short stories.

The writing was adequate, but far from spectacular or beautiful. The alternation between three different narrators over a span of fifty years was unique and worked fairly well.

I really had trouble getting into the story because all the characters, while very real, were simply not nice people. The story was supposed to be this deep exploration of how terrorism (in this case Basque separatists) affects a small town. I just didn’t get into the characters to really feel what they felt or to suffer with them.

Urza’s story almost felt like a demonstration piece of literary devices--repetitions of phrases, insertion of Spanish and Basque words and phrases, metaphors of transplants, parallels storylines, historical flashbacks, juxtapositions across history, typecast Spanish grandmothers, and more. I have learned to be wary when an author has an MFA or has been to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop--they just feel so full of technique. Years ago, I read a review where this criticism was made and I didn’t get it--but now I do. You almost feel like you are reading a class assignment more than a story into which someone has really poured their heart.

The blurb calls this book ‘psychologically twisting’--I’m not really sure where that idea comes from--I felt it to be very straightforward. My perspectives of people were never subjected to psychological manipulation. If that is what you are looking for, it’s just not here.

Perhaps it was simply too subtle for me--I just didn’t get that much out of this one.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book with the expectation I would provide an honest review. ( )
  gpaisley | Dec 6, 2015 |
Inhumanity, the human trait

All That Followed: A Novel by Gabriel Urza (Henry Holt and Co., $25).

Gabriel Urza, an American writer of Basque descent, makes a strong debut with All That Followed, set in a Basque village with a history.

Muriga was the site of a massacre during the Spanish Civil War. Since then, it’s developed a serious strain of Basque separatism, and some radicalized young people murdered a politician. Then, following the 2004 al Qaeda attack in Madrid, feelings in Muriga are once again boiling over.

With a trio of narrators—Joni, an American teacher who, after 50 years in town is still an outsider; Mariana, widow of the murdered politician and recipient of a life-saving kidney from a radical murdered by police; and Iker, one of the youths who killed Mariana’s husband, now imprisoned—give us the story of a town besieged by trouble from without and within.

Urza’s gift here is to show that terrorism is, always, an inhumane act perpetrated by humans upon their fellows. There is no us and them; there is only us, armed to the teeth and ready to kill or die.

(Reviewed on LIt/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com) ( )
  KelMunger | Oct 20, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love the part of Spain where this book is set so I was excited to receive this an an Early Reviewer. There are three narrators, a high school teacher near retirement, a young woman, and an imprisoned man remembering his late adolescence. This last one seemed compelling. I liked his voice and wanted to know what happened to him, how his life brought him to that place. The teacher was a bore and it was hard to tell if it was he or his author who had a lot of trouble with objectifying women. The woman was utterly improbable, written as if by someone who doesn't know women very well (which helped to answer my question in the previous sentence). There's a lot of unnecessary back story about these flat, largely unlikable characters. By the time I started to understand more about the prisoner-narrator, I didn't even care about him anymore. I'd love to read a good novel about this place, this time, but this isn't it. ( )
  susanbooks | Jul 2, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Very glad to receive this fascinating book as part of the Early Reviewers program. It was not immediately engaging to follow the author's nuances and rhythms as he establishes three characters' first-person narratives, told in turn by alternating chapters. But the story evolves masterfully and the character's lives in the setting of a small Basque town are engrossing and complex. Of the three, a councilman’s young widow, the teenager jailed for the councilman's murder, and an aging American teacher, I found the teacher to be especially well-drawn. ( )
  KatyBee | Jun 27, 2015 |
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"It's 2004 in Muriga, a quiet town in Spain's northern Basque Country, a place with more secrets than inhabitants. Five years have passed since the kidnapping and murder of a young local politician--a family man and father--and the town's rhythms have almost returned to normal. But in the aftermath of the Atocha train bombings in Madrid, an act of terrorism that rocked a nation and a world, the townspeople want a reckoning of Muriga's own troubled past: Everyone knows who pulled the trigger five years ago, but is the young man now behind bars the only one to blame? All That Followed peels away the layers of a crime complicated by history, love, and betrayal. The accounts of three townspeople in particular--the councilman's beautiful young widow, the teenage radical now in jail for the crime, and an aging American teacher hiding a traumatic past of his own--hold the key to what really happened. And for these three, it's finally time to confront what they can find of the truth. Inspired by a true story, All That Followed is a powerful, multifaceted novel about a nefarious kind of violence that can take hold when we least expect. Urgent, elegant, and gorgeously atmospheric, Urza's debut is a book for the world we live in now, and it marks the arrival of a brilliant new writer to watch"--… (more)

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