We met up for supper at the ‘Cueva of Mora Luna’, a restaurant in the
His book Driving Over Lemons had brought him great success and now translated into Spanish under the title Entre Limones it was bringing him a similar success in
There he was, the same as ever, with his contagious smile and energetic gestures. He talked about his book with warmth and humour, the audience was amused and asked numerous questions.
Driving Over Lemons was his debut as a writer, and a great success all over the world, this was followed by A Parrot in the Pepper tree and the Almond Blossom Appreciation Society. Seen through the eyes of an outsider, Chris takes us to La Alpujarra, a mountainous region south of
After the presentation, we talked for a few minutes and fixed a meeting for some time when he was more relaxed and did not have so many commitments with his Spanish publisher Almuzara.
“Do you know that my editor, Manuel Pimentel, used to be a minister in Aznar’s government,” Chris said as we looked at the menu. “He is a really nice man, very cultivated and a workaholic. He is amazing.”
Chris wore his glasses, his face was sun-tanned and smiling as usual, he spoke with his characteristic enthusiasm. “I have just been contacted by an English newspaper to write something about Andalucia, but in a too romantic way. I do not feel comfortable with that, there is a dark side of what is happening with all the building that is going on. I told them I would do it if they allow me to write about this too.”
I asked him about the reaction towards the Spanish translation of Driving Over Lemons. “People seem to have liked it. The only criticism has come from the man who used to be the Mayor of Orgiva, but I doubt if he has really read the book. I get stopped in the street. ‘Cristobal, I saw you on TV – that must be good for the village.’ They are great characters,” Stewart said. “I did not expect it to make such an impact. And the same thing has happened in
In spite of all the success, Chris and his family live as before. They use solar energy, have a vegetable patch and swim in their ecological swimming pool. “We still live in El Valero, a cortijo on the wrong side of the river, and the perfect place being at the junction of two rivers for building a dam. It seems that there was project, but it has not been done.” I mentioned other writers who have been threatened to leave their land, the writer Alistair Boyd in Ronda, for example. “It is a shame that things are changing so quickly for the worse. All the large-scale building and the concrete everywhere repel me. My translator, Alicia, was planning to leave
The evening moved on, and we talked about future projects. “I am quite involved in ecological matters. I was in
I then asked him about his writing an if we can expect some new book soon “Writing has been a discovery but I do not know if there will be a fourth book about us after The Parrot on a Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society. You never known what will happen next. Maybe in a few years we will disappear as a race because of our own fault.”
The night was coming to an end. Chris and Ana had to return to their cortijo, to their daughter Chloë and all their animals including a misanthropic parrot. “Maybe we have been a bit too negative about things. There are still nice corners in Andalucia. Look at that moon on those mountains.” This made reminded me Gerald Brenan’s descriptions of the mountains in the Alpujarra at the feet of
No matter how bad the situation,