A unique first novel about a young woman living in Madrid who approaches bureaucracy with an infectious, innocent charm.
Aurora Ortiz needs a job. Her intelligence is evident (she studied Latin and Greek and still reads classics) and her ambition is simple: She wants to be a building caretaker. But in order to apply for any kind of work, the 30-year-old widow has to register with an employment agency, draft a résumé and cover letter and set up lengthy in-person interviews, even though there might not be available openings. Aurora, who was raised in a tiny Galician village, has brought to Madrid an unconventional approach to everything, including job hunting. Rather than taking the traditional route, Aurora writes long, honest letters to the agency, and through them her life story emerges. She pontificates on her neighbor Fany, a trained beautician and award-winning writer who is excited about her new job as a supermarket cashier; she praises her Aunt Domi back in the village of San Clemente de Quintás; and she poignantly reminisces about her adoring late husband Roberto. Though Fany and her Madrid friends question Aurora’s technique, she thrives on the support of those back home (including new friend Clemente, who has taken a teaching post in the village). Eventually, her wacky persistence pays off when Guillermo, an officer in the employment agency, falls under the spell of her letters. Aurora is immensely likable, as quirky and enchanting as the title character of Amelie, and Solana’s satire of the ridiculous complexity of so much red tape will resonate with anyone who has had to look for work.
Delightfully original, Solana’s fresh voice deserves attention.