Friday, January 21

Farewell to Almudena Grandes, the survivor’s writer


Despite everything, Grandes described his ailment as “learning.” “Cancer, which is a disease like any other, certainly an apprenticeship, but never a curse, nor a shame, nor a punishment, has accompanied me since then,” he confessed in one of his last interviews.

Born in Madrid in 1960, Grandes became known in 1989 thanks to Las Ages de Lulú, a work that won the Vertical Smile Award at the Tusquets publishing house, and which was even adapted for film by Bigas Luna. His novels I’ll call you Friday, Malena is a tango name, Human geography ties, The difficult airs, Cardboard Castles, The frozen heart and The kisses in the bread, along with the volumes of stories Models of women and Passage stations, They made it one of the most established names and with the greatest international projection in contemporary Spanish literature.

In addition, many of them have been brought to the big screen. In 2010, he published Inés y la feliz, which won the Madrid Critics’ Prize, the Elena Poniatowska Ibero-American Novel Prize and the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize), the first title in the series’ Episodios de una Guerra Interminable ‘. This publication was followed by Julio Verne’s Reader (2012), Manolita’s Three Weddings (2014), Doctor García’s Patients (2017; National Narrative Award) or Frankenstein’s Mother (2020), among others.

Linked to the Spanish cinema sector, she began to work writing texts for encyclopedias. He flirted with the performance, his most prominent role being in the film A contratiempo, alongside Óscar Ladoire. The ages of Lulú, published in 1989, was his first novel, which Bigas Luna was in charge of transforming into a feature film.

Later came the adaptations of Malena es un nombre de tango and Los aires humana, both by Gerardo Herrero; Cardboard Castles, by Salvador Gracia Ruiz; Although you don’t know it, by Juan Vicente Córdoba and Atlas of human geography, by Azucena Rodríguez.

In an interview in February 2020, on the occasion of the publication of a new installment of his episodes on the Civil War in Frankenstein’s mother (Tusquets), Grandes said that “the biggest problem in Spain” arises when “the right wing loses power and behaves as if it had been stolen. ‘

“It is a problem, because they have the feeling that Spain is theirs because they have inherited it and those who have the right to govern are they: if we do not solve it soon, we are going to compromise the future of this country,” said the writer.

In fact, Grandes considered that he was going through an “unsustainable situation of anger and tension” that dates back years, when the Transition began. “All this is a consequence of how democracy was founded, without totally breaking ties with the Franco dictatorship and without worrying about the victims of Francoism,” the author asserted.

However, the National Narrative Prize added that to this problem are added others that make up a “systemic crisis” in Spain. «There are many millions of Spaniards who are not going to be anything other than Spaniards throughout their lives and they do not end up identifying with this country: they see a flag and it is not theirs, unless it is a World Cup, which is the only time that we are a normal country, “he lamented.

I was preparing a new work

In La madre de Frankenstein, his last novel, Grandes travels to the postwar years of the Spanish war, where the National Catholicism of the State began to “exercise terror in another way” after the hard decade of the 1940s. walks or ‘sacas’, but the State and the Church entered the intimacy of the people: it was an unbreathable atmosphere in a country that already knew that Franco had been around for a while, ”he highlighted.

Taking as the protagonist the young psychiatrist Germán Velázquez, the author places the action in the women’s asylum of Ciempozuelos, in Madrid. There is a character that was real, that of the parricide Aurora Rodríguez, someone who “could be the model of a new Spanish woman”, but who nevertheless was left marked by a mental illness for the rest of her life.

Married to the poet and director of the Cervantes Institute, Luis García Montero, Almudena Grandes never hesitated to use her popularity to fight political causes or to talk about football, since she was a supporter of Atlético de Madrid. He collaborated in media such as La Ser or El País. It was in this last medium that he announced that he had cancer. He was preparing a new novel.


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