In this slim tale, Laxalt shows the ugly, desperate, and sometimes violent world of the contrabandiers, Basque smugglers in the Pyrenees. Set in the 1960s, the terse story begins with Nikolas, driven by his family’s financial despair, taking on work from Gregorio, the patrón of a small team of smugglers. Nikolas must smuggle fifty horses over the mountain ridges between France and Spain. If he’s caught, jail and ruin are certain; death is possible. This engrossing novella, told with tight narration and compelling dialogue, shows the grinding poverty and ethnic tensions in Basque lands, fifty years ago.
“A Cup of Tea in Pamplona is a great story by one of our country’s best storytellers.” —Charles Kuralt