Magazine May 4, 2020, Issue

Discovering Manuel Mena

Republican forces in the city of Irún during the Spanish Civil War (Biblioteca Nacional de Defensa/Wikimedia)
Lord of All the Dead: A Nonfiction Novel, by Javier Cercas, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean (Knopf, 288 pp., $26.95)

This is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. And it’s strange that I picked it up in the first place.

In my business, publicists send you books, and, a few months ago, a publicist sent me two by Javier Cercas. I had never heard of him. Come to find out, he is a big figure in his country, Spain, and prominent elsewhere as well.

One of the books was Soldiers of Salamis, a novel published in 2001. (Huge bestseller.) The second was the one I’m writing about, Lord of All the Dead, published in 2017. It is now available in

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