Gabriel Janer Manila was born in Algaida, Mallorca in 1940. He worked as a teacher for 15 years. In 1970 he received a Master’s degree in Pedagogy from the University of Barcelona, and wrote his thesis about Marcos Flores the child who was abandoned in the wilderness and lived there by himself surrounded by wild animals for 13 years. It is this incredible story that inspired the novel that we now have at hand.
Gabriel Janer Manila decided to write the story of Marcos, known as the wild child of the Sierra Morena, thirty years after he recorded an interview with Marcos. The result is the book He jugado con lobos (I’ve Played with Wolves). Ever since its first publication in 2010 the books has sold over 30,000 copies and it was brought to the big screen, in Spain, under the title of Entrelobos (Among Wolves) in November of 2010.
The story of Marcos Flores is real. He is known as the wild child of the Sierra Morena. Marcos was born into a very poor family in a village in Southern Spain. At the age of six he was sold by his father to a landowner who in turn brought him to the mountains to learn how to take care of the goats from an old and uncaring man called Damian. One day, shortly after he is there, Damian disappears and he is left to fend for himself. Although he is occasionally visited by the landowner, who goes up to the mountain to check on how he is doing his job, he is never given any tools, clothes or food, except for stale bread.
Over the next thirteen years Marcos learns to survive in the wild thanks to his own intuition and ability to relate to the animals around him. The animals become his friends, family and guardians. He shares his cave with a snake, a fox, owls and rats. The snake in particular becomes his constant companion and guardian. He also develops a friendship with wolves that keep a respectful distance from him and never try to hurt him or the goats he cares for.
Marcos is eventually spotted by a forest ranger that brings him back to the village that he came from. The last part of the novel goes into details about his reintroduction into the real world and the help he receives from a local young priest.
At the end of the novel, there is a short reflection by the author on how he approached the novel and more important the character of Marcos himself.
A truly fascinating novel, of extremely sensibility, that will touch young and old readers alike. The fact that the novel is based on the testimony of a living person gives the novel a touch of reality and intrigue.