The Ravine

By Nivaria Tejera
Translated by Carol Maier
Afterword by Carol Maier

Subjects: Spanish Studies
Series: SUNY series, Women Writers in Translation
Paperback : 9780791472927, 171 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791472910, 171 pages, January 2008

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Part One

Part Two

Part Three
About El barranco, After Twenty Years
Nivaria Tejera
Afterword: Reading El barranco, Writing The Ravine
Carol Maier

Fictional narrative of a young girl’s experiences at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.


Set in the Canary Islands at the outset of the Spanish Civil War, The Ravine is the provocative, disturbing account of a child's experience with war. Narrated by an unnamed seven-year-old girl, the story begins in the early days of the war when her father—a staunch supporter of the Republic—goes into hiding. As the girl and her family await news of his whereabouts, they learn he is taken prisoner, brought to trial, and eventually sentenced to forced labor in a concentration camp. Confused and bereft, they visit him in the camp, hoping he will be spared the firing squad and the subsequent "burial" in the ravine, a fate that befalls so many prisoners.

Acclaimed since its original appearance in French in 1958, The Ravine has been published in several languages and remains the novel for which Nivaria Tejera is best known. This is the first English translation.

Nivaria Tejera was born in Cuba in 1929 but spent much of her early life in the Canary Islands. A poet and novelist, she was awarded the Seix Barral Biblioteca Breve prize in 1971 for her novel Sonámbulo del sol. Tejera lives in Paris. Carol Maier is Professor of Spanish at Kent State University. She has translated or edited many books, including Memoirs of Leticia Valle by Rosa Chacel, for which she received the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Literary Work by the Modern Language Association.


"In her translation, Carol Maier manages to achieve a lyrical environment comparable to the original through the use of short sentences, absence of verbs, anguished images, and alliterative language … The Ravine is a necessary addition to the field of Spanish and Transatlantic literature and constitutes a timely contribution to the current wave of historical, cultural, and literary production that rewrites the history of the Spanish Civil War." — Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas

"Maier provides not only a sensitive, smooth translation but also an informative afterword. A pleasure to read…" — CHOICE

"…a surreal portrayal of the effects of war—not unlike Mohammed Dib's great wartime story of Algeria, Who Remembers the Sea." — Rain Taxi

"Profoundly psychological, Tejera's sparse prose is well served by Carol Maier's superb translation." — Barbara Probst Solomon, author of Arriving Where We Started

"Though written in the 1950s, its taut description of a civil war's assault on the everyday certainties of childhood rings most contemporary." — Peter Bush, former Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation and translator of Juan Goytisolo's Forbidden Territory and Nuria Amat's Queen Cocaine

"Those who cannot read Spanish are fortunate to have access at last to this powerful translation of Nivaria Tejera's most famous novel." — Betsy Hearne, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign