This is the story of Luis Ocaña, the champion cyclist whose entire career constantly veered between heroism and tragedy, always missing out the middle way. Born into abject poverty during Spain’s ‘years of hunger’ and brought up in France, throughout his adult life he suffered from the effects of his childhood malnutrition and the perpetual question of self-identity – the common lot of the exile – Spanish or French or neither one nor the other? Enigmatic and contradictory, Ocaña was driven by a fierce pride, and an all-or-nothing scorn for caution and careful calculation which made him one of the most dramatically exciting riders ever.
This book has been a long time in the making. At the end 2008 Dutch sportswriter, Nando Boers, and Pedro Horrillo, a Spanish cyclist then riding for the Dutch Rabobank team, conceived the idea of corresponding regularly via email throughout the coming racing season. They would exchange thoughts about the racing, the results and events in the cycling world.
The correspondence, starting early in 2009 begins in that fashion — two friends swapping stories and experiences. Then in May everything changed, utterly: Horrillo crashed, traumatically, in the Giro d’Italia, tumbling 80 metres down a cliff face. It took the mountain rescure half an hour even to find him. Miraculously, after days in a coma, he survived but he would never race again.
A correspondence that was planned to last nine months eventually took four years to complete.
‘Don't panic. Keep reading. It ends well.’
Wilfried de Jong
Norwich 1144 A Jew's Tale
It is 1230 in Norwich, and Joseph the Crippled Jew, waiting to die at the hands of an angry mob, recalls with regret and joy the key role he played more than 80 years before in transforming his childhood friend into a martyred saint. This was the first modern accusation of the ritual murder of a Christian child by Jews, what was to become known as the Blood Libel.
The story of William of Norwich has echoed down the centuries in a great many similar accusations, riots, pogroms and wholesale genocide. Norwich 1144; A Jew's Tale is the first novel based around the terrible, historically resonant events of this period.
‘Bill Albert is a historian and a disability rights advocate as well as being a fine novelist. This fascinating and moving book finds him weaving together these skills in an unforgettable way.’
Tom Shakespeare - Academic & Broadcaster