8 Spanish authors you need to know 2
Najat El Hachmi. Photo by David Oller/Lagencia/IMAGO
Culture

8 Spanish authors you need to know

Spain is the Guest of Honor at the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair. Here are some of the country's literary stars — from Fernando Aramburu to Najat El Hachmi.
Maria John Sánchez, Deutsche Welle | Oct 19 2022

Once again, it's time for the world's biggest book fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and this year Spain is the festival's country of honor.

The Spanish royal couple, Queen Letizia and King Felipe, will open the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 18.

The last time Spain was Guest of Honor at the book fair was more than 30 years ago, in 1991. At the time, it was a young democracy. Some writers who were just starting their careers have since passed away, such as the great Javier Marias, Almudena Grandes and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Now, 31 years later, a new generation of Spanish authors is being presented under the motto "Creatividad Desbordante," or "Spilling Creativity" in English.

Here is a selection of Spanish literary stars and their books.

 

Fernando Aramburu

Fernando Aramburu is the most widely read Basque writer of all time, largely thanks to his 2016 masterpiece "Patria."

In the novel, Aramburu tells a story about how terrorist actions by the Basque separatist group ETA destroys two families in the Spanish Basque Country. The book sold more than 1.2 million copies, was translated into 34 languages and even made into a TV series on HBO.

Aramburu has been living in Germany since the mid-1980s.

Basque writer Fernando Aramburu has even had his work made into a TV series by HBO
Basque writer Fernando Aramburu has even had his work made into a TV series by HBO. Image: Marco Destefanis/Pacific Press/picture alliance

Najat El Hachmi

Born in Morocco in 1979, Najat El Hachmi came to Catalonia when she was 8 years old. In her award-winning books, the author explores what it feels like to belong to two worlds.

Many of her novels are autobiographical and focus on young women from immigrant families who grow up under religious and cultural constraints. In their search for freedom, they must overcome barriers imposed on them because of their gender and countries of origin.

 

Luz Gabas

Luz Gabas won this year's Planeta Prize, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world, for her book "Lejos de Luisiana" ("Far from Louisiana").

Set in the 18th century, the novel tells the love story between a Native American and a French woman in Louisiana. Parts of what is now the US state were under Spanish control at the time. 

"For me, novels must teach, entertain and move. And I think this story, which also deals with part of Spain's colonial past, meets all those requirements," Gabas said on the sidelines of the award ceremony in Barcelona.

Author Sara Mesa often writes about complex relationships dynamics, including family ties
Author Sara Mesa often writes about complex relationships dynamics, including family ties. Image: Zuma/IMAGO

Sara Mesa

Sara Mesa, born in Madrid in 1976, began her literary career writing poetry. She later discovered her enthusiasm for short stories and novels.

Her stories focus on deep interpersonal relationships, including family relationships which she explores in her 2022 novel "La familia." Mesa dissects human behavior, tracing the wounds and contradictions of her ambivalent characters.

She received the Spanish Booksellers' Prize for Fiction in 2021 for her book "A Love.”

 

Sergio del Molino

Spain's literary scene is dominated by two cities: Madrid and Barcelona.

Many regions suffer from rural exodus, a phenomenon which author and journalist Sergio del Molino described as "empty Spain" in his publication of the same name: "La Espana vacía" (2016).

In this novel, the 43-year-old initiated a debate about the problem of depopulation and the urban-rural divide. His book has since become a reference work when it comes to understanding contemporary Spain.

Sergio del Molino's book 'La Espana vacía' initiated a debate about the problem of depopulation in Spain
Sergio del Molino's book 'La Espana vacía' initiated a debate about the problem of depopulation in Spain. Image: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Antonio Munoz Molina

With 15 novels, some of which have been made into films, Antonio Munoz Molina is one of Spain's literary heavyweights and one of the country's most internationally successful writers.

Growing up in rural Andalucia in the 1950s, he defied his father's wishes that he should continue to work in agriculture, and instead became a writer — much to the delight of his fans.

His best-known works include "Winter in Lisbon" (1987) and "The Polish Rider" (1991).

 

Rosa Montero

Rosa Montero began writing at a young age, when, due to a bout with tuberculosis, she could do little else but read — write her own stories. Born in Madrid, she was one of the first Spanish women to write about feminist issues in the 1970s. Her nonfiction book "Historias de mujeres" ("Stories of Women") (1995) contains 15 portraits of women, from Frida Kahlo to sculptor Camille Claudel.

Rosa Montero has long been writing about feminist issues in Spain
Rosa Montero has long been writing about feminist issues in Spain. Image: Atilano Garcia/Zuma/picture alliance

Arturo Perez-Reverte

Arturo Perez-Reverte is one of the most popular writers in Spain.

In what seems to be almost inexhaustible productivity, the former journalist writes one bestseller after another. His books have been translated worldwide, with some having been successfully filmed several times and adapted for comics.

His greatest success is the series about the fearless "Capitan Alatriste." In it, Perez-Reverte mixes adventure stories with the historical facts about life in 17th-century Spain.

This article was translated from German.