Serge Pey’s stories take the form of vignettes from the lives of Spanish Civil War refugees and their children, who fled on foot from Catalonia to Southern France through the Pyrenees, only to be interned in French prison camps upon their arrival. The collection is made up by a series of surreal glimpses from the perspective of political refugees, many of them children. Through their eyes, we see the secret language of resistance: codes in clothes lines, hidden libraries of banned books, cherry trees named for assassinated comrades.
Pey ignites a brutal landscape with rare, rapt attention, the kind of engrossment that can deliver us to a new comprehension. Myth and superstition take hold in stories that range from a boy’s conspiratorial relationship with his grandmother and remembrances of outdoor movie watching to terrifying accounts of violence, confinement, and escape. In The Treasure of the Spanish Civil War, immigrants reclaim their silenced histories, which read as disturbing precursors to the oppressive borders of today.