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Critically acclaimed throughout Spain, and now available for the first time in English, this tender, satirical novel vividly captures the intrinsic absurdity of war—and the joys of true friendship in a place where it is difficult to distinguish man from beast.

Juan Castro Pérez is a simple muleteer caught in the brutal Spanish Civil War. Never far from his closest companion—a stray mule named Valentina whom he is determined to keep for himself after the war—Juan engages in the low-brow drinking escapades, long shots at love, and an otherwise droning existence shared by his compatriots.

As he lies, cheats, and steals to protect Valentina during his improbable odyssey home, Juan unwittingly “fights” for both sides—and becomes a reluctant and unlikely hero of the people, exploited by opportunistic journalists desperately trying to convince the Spanish public that the war is under control, when it is anything but….

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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