No Longer Here

William Deresiewicz

Julio Llamazares’s novel The Yellow Rain, much praised and much bought when it was published in Spain 15 years ago, tells the story of Ainielle, a small, remote Pyrenean village in the final stages of its disappearance. One by one, the last families load what they can onto mule or mare and set off down the mountains in the hope of finding a less hardscrabble life somewhere else, abandoning their houses to woodworm and rust, and their remaining neighbours to an increasingly starved and shrunken existence. Finally, only one ageing couple, Sabina and Andrés, remain. One night, during their first winter alone, Sabina, who has been withdrawing ever deeper into depression, hangs herself from a beam in the old mill. Andrés, his dog his only company, wanders the bleak hillsides hunting for game, wanders the village streets watching his friends’ houses turn into piles of rubble, wanders his memory looking for the life he has lost.

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