NAPALM IN OUR HEARTS by Pol Guasch, ANAGRAMA NOVEL PRIZE 2021
“Sometimes I feel like I’m writing down the future. I tell myself that, in the face of misunderstanding, the words should be there. Someone, maybe, will understand them,” says the narrator of the story. And, in fact, Napalm in Our Hearts is something of an exercise in the intimate understanding of an extreme and traumatic past, and the sentimental mapping of a tumultuous present in the search for some kind of freedom.
Set in an ambiguous geography, Pol Guasch’s first novel features a pair of boys who have grown up in a militarized zone. Their lives have been impacted by precarious living conditions, an environment that is intolerant of their desire, and families that have been uprooted. The lack of prospects is pervasive, but they hang on to the possibility of letting themselves be dazzled and even submitting, of embracing militancy and the temptation of violence, and of continuing to speak a language that is falling to pieces: their own.
The only alternative is to flee that barren land. On their journey beyond the “other side”, literally carrying the weight of the past in the form of a letter and a dead body to bury, they’ll find different answers to shared mysteries. Pieced together delicately like a mosaic, written with precision and beauty, Napalm in Our Hearts offers a vivid allegory of the various oppressions that determine so many lives, but also of the fine line that sometimes separates victim from executioner.
Pol Guasch (Tarragona, 1997) has a Master's Degree in Contemporary Literature, Culture, and Theory from King's College London and is currently researching his doctoral thesis on love and poetics at the Universitat de Barcelona. He has completed the MACBA Independent Studies Program and taught literature and cultural criticism at UB. He is currently part of the cultural production company La Sullivan. He’s a regular contributor to multiple media outlets including RAC1, Cadena SER, and Diari Ara. He’s the author of the poetry collections Tanta grana (2018 Francesc Garriga Prize) and La part del foc (2020 López-Picó Prize) and has participated in international poetry readings from South Africa to Switzerland and Germany. His writing scholarships and residences include the 2020 Beques Premis Ciutat de Barcelona and the Santa Maddalena Foundation. His debut novel Napalm al cor, winner of the 2021 Anagrama Llibres Novel Prize has been translated into Spanish, English, French, Italian, and German, and is also being adapted for theatre and film. Guasch has also been awarded 42nd Revelation Award in Catalan for Napalm al cor, and the Eñe Festival Talent Award in Madrid.