To win submit your favourite proverb by 1st of June!
Known for his love of flamenco, brandy and the occasional joint, Cámara often thinks in traditional Spanish proverbs such as:
Si, buscas la venganza, prepara dos tumbas – una de ellas será tuya. If you seek revenge, prepare two graves – one of them will be yours.
Llena o vacía, la casa es solo mía. Either empty or full, my home is mine alone.
For a chance to win signed copies of both books: ‘Or The Bull Kills You’ and ‘A Death in Valencia’ (to be published in the UK on 7th June 2012) tweet your favourite proverb - in English or Spanish - to @JWebsterwriter by 1st June.
See current entries for inspiration…
El ladrón piensa que todos son de su misma condición - a thief suspects everyone of thievery.
Persevera y triunfaras - If at first you don't succeed, try, and then try again.
Is maith an scáthán súil charad - A friend's eye is a good mirror. (Irish)
An rud a líonas an tsúil líonann sé an croí - What fills the eye fills the heart. (Irish)
Si Recibes no has de olvidar y si das no has de recorder - You can't forget what you received and you can't remind what you give.
Quien no esta hecho a bragas las costuras le hacen llagas (whom doesnt used to wear knickers the seams will cause sores) in Other words, if you dont use to do something, everything Will be a problem.
He who pisseth against the wind, wetteth his shirt.
Venir voler una cosa viene a ser - When they smell the pot a cookin’ is when they come a lookin’.
En boca cerrada no entran moscas - Flies don’t enter closed mouths.
Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda - If you get up early, God will help you. (Early bird catches worm).
Cuando marzo mayea, mayo marcea - When March is like May, May is like March.
A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando - Speak quietly and carry a big stick.
Escondida en concha vive la perla y al fondo de los mares bajan por ella No olvides nunca que lo que mucho vale mucho se bus - Hidden in her shell lives a pearl, deep into the seas, they dive for her...never forget that for items a of a great value one searches a lot.
A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.
Y a boca tancada no se entra mosca - A closed mouth gathers no flies (the less said the better).
The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.
The Devil puts a touch of honey on thy neighbour's wife.
See how we apples swim, quoth the horse turd - an allusion to people who pretend to be something which they are not.
De tal palo tal astilla - like father, like son.
If a donkey kicks you and you kick back, you are both donkeys.
Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.
Año de nieves, año de bienes - If it snows a lot, it will be a good year/harvest.
No good deed goes unpunished.
A recent piece in The Guardian ‘Architect Santiago Calatrava accused of 'bleeding Valencia dry’ the paper reported that Valencia’s most renowned architect has come under fire for payments he received from the government. As stated in The Guardian accusations are coming from the left-wing Esquerra Unida party who have set up a website: ‘calatravatelaclava’ which translates as ‘Calatrava bleeds you dry’. The left-wing party say they have uncovered records showing the council paid him over €100 million and that one of his most famous structures – The City of the Arts and Science complex – cost over €1.1 billion and is still to be completed. This failure they attribute to both the architect’s greed and to the regional government’s failure to control the cost. Born and raised in Valencia, Santiago Calatrava was very much a local hero and such revelations have disappointed many of his former admirers. He has hit back, saying that "The attitude of those who want to take advantage of the current economic climate to criticise a project whose benefits no one has challenged is simply indescribable,".
According to The Economist article: ‘The centre tries to hold’ Valencia is being held up as an example of the overspending by Spain’s regional governments. The centre-right People’s Party, in power since December 2011, have largely blamed the regions – who went over budget by an estimated €14 billion – for the country’s fiscal difficulties. The new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to exert his control over the regions, particularly in Valencia where his party has been in power for seventeen years.
The Guardian’s article alludes to the corruption in parts of Spanish society: ‘Calatrava's dazzling City of the Arts and Science, a series of space-age buildings in Valencia, is at the centre of the complaints about his dealings with a local government mired in corruption cases – none of which involve the architect.’
In my latest book ‘A Death in Valencia’ corruption in the city provides the backdrop to Chief Inspector Max Cámara’s latest case. Cámara uncovers property fraud, unfair demolitions and illegal urbanisations which impact on both his professional and private life.
Crime writer Jason Webster talks about his new book, ‘A Death in Valencia’
Much like his protagonist Detective Max Cámara, who solves crimes by soaking up fragments of information and overheard conversations, Webster’s writing owes much to serendipity: ‘I usually have two or three things I want to look at. These are then influenced by what’s happening around me.’ While he does read Crime Fiction he points out that ‘writing comes from life, not other writing.’ Webster maps out all the strands of the plot, a process he compares to the making of the Moroccan carpet in his office. Only when all the loose threads are tied up does he sit down to write – producing an impressive 2000 words a day.
Set in the pulsating city of Valencia, the heat and noise of high summer seep through every page. Max Cámara – a man sustained by paella, café solo and the occasional joint – has been described by one critic as ‘the most enchanting new detective I’ve come across’. He makes for excellent company as you navigate the twists and turns of the plot, as tightly woven as the city’s medieval warrens.
When prompted as to who Cámara would get along with, Webster opts for Fred Vargas’s Commissaire Adamsberg: ‘I think he would hit it off with mavericks who depend on their ability to associate disparate details – gut instinct rather than logic.’ And should Max Cámara make it to the big screen? ‘I have Javier Bardem in mind!’
The expertly researched back-story – the author has lived in the city for over a decade – is a strong part of the appeal. Having tackled bull-fighting in the first Max Cámara book: ‘Or The Bull Kills You’ Webster addresses a number of themes including that of the role of the church. ‘A Death in Valencia’ is set during the Pope’s visit and at a time when the abortion law is under threat.
Corruption is another prominent theme, particularly the abuse of land-planning laws. Webster himself is passionately opposed to the destruction of the city’s historic quarters: ‘The Town Hall want to bulldoze the El Cabanyal (the old fisherman’s quarter)… it’s a tragedy, this area dates back to the 13th Century and has been deliberately run down,’ he says.
It’s the divisions in society that fascinate Webster:
‘You see it in all aspects of Spanish life; on the one hand parts of Spain are very liberal, it was one of the first countries to accept gay marriage, legalise prostitution and decriminalise drug possession for personal use but the country finds it difficult to break away from the authoritarianism of the Franco era when division on abortion, social rights, the regions versus the centre caused people to kill each other…in historical terms it’s not that long ago.’
Webster brings these issues to life through the experiences and thoughts of his characters: ‘Cámara goes through the mill in this book – still reeling from his ex-girlfriend’s decision to have an abortion, the block of flats he lives in collapses due to neglect and it’s as if his sense of the world also crumbles.’ Fans of ‘Or The Bull Kills You’ will be pleased to see his sidekick Torres, and grandfather Hilario return in ‘A Death in Valencia’.
Webster is already working on a third Max Cámara book, ‘The Anarchist Detective’ and a non-fiction title about Agent Garbo.
‘A Death in Valencia’ will be published by Chatto & Windus on the 7th of June 2012.