Home Stories One Story Issue #286: Julian Zabalbeascoa’s “A Life Anew”

One Story Issue #286: Julian Zabalbeascoa’s “A Life Anew”


Our new issue drops us into a hospital run by nuns, in Spain, during the Spanish Civil War. It also places us squarely in the head of a novitiate who’s just been given her new name—a name she intensely dislikes: Sister Jocabed.

Sister Jocabed wants to do well, but in the eyes of the Mother Superior and the other nuns, she is what we, today, would call “damaged goods.” She had a child out of wedlock before taking her vows, and that child was taken away from her. Now, as a novitiate, she tends not only to wounded soldiers but to expectant mothers—and finds herself part of a system that removes babies from young women who are unwed. When one expectant mother, about to go into labor, asks her for help in escaping the hospital, Sister Jocabed is caught in the crossfire of her vows and her sympathies.

As he says in our Q&A, author Julian Zabalbeascoa doesn’t ever set out to write a specific story; instead, he sets out with the intention of discovering a story, and we’re fortunate that this particular discovery of his, “A Life Anew,” has found its way into the pages of One Story. We won’t soon forget Sister Jacobed, and we doubt you will either.


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