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'The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories' is a collection of 14 thoughtful and thought-provoking short stories by David Joseph. Previously published as a poet, the author's lyrical prose flows effortlessly throughout the book. Set in a series of Spanish and Portuguese cities, characters of differing ages, gender and origins reveal their joy, grief, regret or sadness through extraordinary events in their otherwise ordinary lives. Many of these stories are outstanding but, for me, particularly so is 'The Cleanest Alimentación in Spain'. It tells of 18 year old Jorge, a second generation Chinese immigrant, who works in the family convenience store at weekends to give his mother a break. One quiet Sunday afternoon, four yobs enter the shop intent on making trouble. Although powerfully built, Jorge keeps his cool as they sweep tins from the stacked shelves, laughing and jeering all the while. Thinking of the long and proud histories of their two countries, he stands firm as the louts walk off with their loot, which he pays for from his own money to prevent his mother finding out. We learn of his love for a Spanish student in his class, the dream of being with her, the burden of prejudice but the hope she gives him for Spain, for the future, for himself. This moving collection is a must-read...compelling, sincere, incisive and keenly observed. The backdrop of the Iberian peninsula is magnificently evocative, so much so that the reader is transported to the sun and sites there, which is just what is needed when, at the moment, it's so difficult to actually travel in person. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador