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Rafael Chirbes

Novelist and literary critic

Tavernes de la Valldigna, Valencia, 1949 - 2015

Writer and literary critic, Chirbes was one of the most acclaimed voices of the most recent Spanish literature. He studied Modern and Contemporary History in Madrid and, in addition to his articles on gastronomy, oenology, and travel, he wrote as a literary critic for different media publications. He also published the essays El novelista perplejo (The Perplexed Novelist), El viajero sedentario (The Sedentary Traveller), Mediterráneos (Mediterraneans) and Por cuenta propia (In One’s Own name), as well as nine novels, Mimoun, En la lucha final (In the Final Struggle), La buena letra (Bit by Bit), Los diparos del cazador (The Hunter’s Shots), La larga marcha (The Long March), La caída de Madrid (The Fall of Madrid), Los viejos amigos (Old Friends), Crematorio (Crematorium) and En la orilla (On the Shore), all of them published by Anagrama.

His work was well received in Spain relatively recently: Crematorio was awarded the 2008 National Critics’ Prize and En la orilla was named best novel for 2013 by the daily El País. However, he was also widely read in Germany since the 1990s and the German translation of La larga marcha, which sold 100,000 copies,was awarded the SWR-Bestenliste Prize.

His books offer a stark account of the hardships and general wretchedness caused by the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, thus placing him among the writers who have best depicted the wounds of the conflict and Spain’s recent history. Crematorio and En la orilla constitute a harsh criticism of the years of real-estate speculation and generalised corruption and greed.

Update: 14 February 2017


Marina Espasa

Has participated in

Rubble and Progress

Lecture by Rafael Chirbes