Guernica by Dave Boling

Guernica by Dave Boling

Bloomsbury, New York, 2008

Won at LibraryThing.

At the center of this novel is the town of Guernica, a cultural center of the Basque people and the site of one of the first carpet bombing of a town and its civilian population.  At the beginning of World War II the German Luftwaffe, showing support for Franco and his rebel forces in Spain, bombed this small town to bits.  No one knows how many people died.

Boling tells a story of two families from the Basque Country in the western Pyrenees mountains.  The region lies on the border between France and Spain along the Atlantic coast.  The story of the Ansotegui and Navarro families begins in the late 1800’s but most time is spent in the 1930’s focused on the meeting and marriage of Miren Ansotegui and Miguel Navarro.

Boling portrays members of both families with depth and caring and there is almost a touch of magical realism woven throughout the book.  The reader follows many characters through their lifetimes.   Through great detail and lyric language, Boling conveys the rugged landscape and rich history of the region.

Historical figures play important roles, the most obvious being Pablo Picasso.  I found this to be the one awkward layer in the novel but I understand Boling’s desire for Picasso’s presence.  Many people only know the name Guernica because of the artist’s famous mural and the history surrounding it.

Guernica is a wonderful, carefully written novel about an important piece of European history.  It is richly layered, carefully researched and its characters will stay with me for some time.

Boling’s dedication reads: For the victims of Guernica…and all the Guernicas that followed.  For more information he suggests a visit to the Guernica Peace Museum.

Other reviews:


Devourer of Books

Dreadlock Girl Reads

She Is Too Fond Of Books


Filed under Historical Fiction, Random Reading, Review, WWII challange 2009

6 responses to “Guernica by Dave Boling

  1. I think Michele at Reader’s Respite did a review too, which inspired me to write this one down. I probably would have read it for my WWII Challenge this year, but it was not offered on Kindle or at my library. I’m still determine to read it!

  2. I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time now. I once had a crush on all things Spanish, including the country’s history. I’ve heard such wonderful things about it and so am glad to hear you confirm that it’s good.

  3. Micha Van Son

    I deplore the fact that the author did not find it necessary to include a glossary of the Basque words and expressions.

  4. Guernica-Gernikara

    Next April 26 they are fulfilled 74 years of Gernika’s bombardment. Paul R. Picasso formed this bombardment in throughout the world known picture “Guernica”, which a today has turned into symbol of the Peace and of the Human rights.

    We ask for your adhesion to which we believe legitimate claim of moving definitively the picture, ” Guernica-Gernikara “.

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