chapter  7
20 Pages

Rememory, Hybridity, and in-between Space in José María Merino’s La sima

Camilio José Cela affirmed that memory “no es plena como el culo de un sárten, sino que va haciendo vueltas y revueltas, vientres y nodos, altos y bajos, cumbres altaneras e incluso simas espantables a veces” (qtd. in Cuesta 156). José María Merino’s 2009 novel, La sima, portrays the lifelong quest of a 34-year-old named Félix to comprehend the Spanish propensity for violent confrontation. Félix’s intellectual quest, which encompasses a doctoral thesis on the Carlist Wars, a voyage to Peru, and his involvement in an exhumation, proves the veracity of Cela’s words. This is not Merino’s first incursion into the generation of grandchildren’s grappling with memory: his 2003 novel, El heredero, centered on the return of a grandchild residing in the United States, Pablo Tomás, to Isclacerta to visit his dying grandmother and to explore the past of his Republican grandfather, who was imprisoned during the postwar period. The pluralism of the de-memorialized space of America is represented in the novel by Pablo’s Puerto Rican wife, Patricia, who believes that the past is immaterial to the construction of the present and future. Tomás’s eventual renunciation of his divisive Spanish family memory narrative is symbolized by the demolishment of the family home and his decision to return to America.