When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà review – the mushroom’s tale

Animals, ghosts, humans, mountains and clouds share the narrative in this playful, deeply felt portrait of Catalonia and its people

“The story of one is the story of us all,” say the mushrooms. When I Sing, Mountains Dance, the second novel by Catalan writer and artist Irene Solà, is nothing if not inclusive: men, women, children, ghosts, witches, dogs, deer, mountains, clouds, even mushrooms, all get a chance to tell their tales.

And these stories are all connected. Set among the villages, forests and rivers of the Pyrenees, the book builds a layered history of the area while focusing primarily on one family. There are four sections, each with four or five stories. These stories skip between the viewpoints of inhabitants past and present; animal, vegetable or mineral. Historical wounds echo into the present; personal traumas carry down the years; folk memories live on in the landscape. Through it all the mushrooms continue to grow: “Because,” they say, “there is no beginning and no end.”

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