All That Followed, by Gabriel Urza
Set in Spain during the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the terrorist attack echoes throughout the pages of “All That Followed,” the debut novel by Gabriel Urza. The tragic event recalls a similar experience for the residents of the town Muriga.
The novel chronicles the intertwining lives of three individuals — the widow Mariana, whose husband was murdered while running for office as a right-wing conservative; the young idealistic revolutionary, Iker, who participated in the abduction and murder of the politician; and Joni Garrett, an American teacher full of life and tragedy, a longtime resident of Spain since the days of Franco’s fascist rule.
Old wounds and ghosts of guilt and regret haunt these characters, and they all struggle with the complexities of exorcising and accepting the demons of the past.
Written with tight, poetic prose, Urza creates a cast of unique, deep characters in a hauntingly beautiful world where we are always “turning up old bones in order to make room for the new.” With every chapter, “All That Followed” is uplifting and heartbreaking in the best way. Not only is it a strong debut, but it’s also one of the best novels of the year.