Cercas’ protagonist, Gafitas, narrates his memories of being a member of "el Zarco's" youth gang in the barrio chino of Girona during the summer of 1978, from the vantage point of the early 2000s. The novel is simultaneously viewed through the intertextual lens of José Antonio de la Loma’s cycle of quinqui films based on the life of the famous Catalan delinquent, El Vaquilla, Juan José Moreno Cuenca. There is renewed interest in these films from the Transition period of the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the success of this novel and director Daniel Monzón's film based on Cercas’ novel (titled Outlaws in English). I argue that both the film and the novel allow a contemporary audience to enjoy the more liberating aspects of these earlier films, by creating an homage to this cycle, set during the same time and in a setting familiar to fans of this genre. While the films of the Transition were accused of glorifying violence, high-speed chases, sexual freedom, and drug use, Cercas' novel provides more of a nostalgic yet remorseful look at this period, through a commendable recreation of the original aesthetic, highlighting the complexity of interplay between the written and filmic forms.
Bobby Nixon is an Associate Professor of Iberian Cultures and Literature at Columbus State University (Georgia). His recent research has included cinematic representations of the Iberian Middle Ages as well as subversive filmmaking during the Franco dictatorship. He is currently working on a project that focuses on Lorca in Spanish film.
Nixon, Bobby D.
"Communicating with the Past via Javier Cercas’ Las leyes de la frontera,"
The Coastal Review: An Online Peer-reviewed Journal: Vol. 13:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/thecoastalreview/vol13/iss1/4
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