Backroads by Ignacio Martínez de Pisón
Carreteras secundarias: Ignacio Martínez de Pisón
I searched for an English translation of this novel but, alas, it seems to be out of print. The only alternative I can suggest for non-Spanish readers is a sub-titled version of the film, which carries the English title Backroads.
Set in Franco Spain of the 1970s, it explores the often fraught relationship between a salesman father and his teenage son, as they embark on a journey through Spain that sometimes encapsulates little more than two people constantly on the run from Spanish justice.
Felipe, the son, inspired by the rebellious antics of Patricia Hearst (the American newspaper heiress who was kidnapped by the Simbionese Liberation Army in 1974) he developed a similar loathing towards his own father, questioning everything that his father did, whether legal or illegal.
After many months of moving from place to place, engaging in various forms of illegal activities and escaping the clutches of the law ‘por los pelos’ (by a hair’s breadth), his father was eventually arrested and imprisoned. In the meantime, Felipe was taken in by rich members of his father’s family, and through the travails of this experience, he truly begins to understand why his father turned his back on them and became the man he was. As Felipe grew older and wiser, he too began to engage in various forms of illicit dealings, until (one day) he came to recognize in himself some of the very characteristics that he had formerly criticized in his father. A veritable ‘chip off the old block’…..
Strangely, and somewhat unexpectedly, we see Felipe making a complete about-turn in his attitude to his father, not only coming to respect him for what he was, but becoming truly proud to be his father’s son.
This is not an action-packed thriller, but a delightful lyrical portrait of a relationship undergoing transformation.