Almudena Grandes dies, the novelist who did not want to turn the page of Francoism

Almudena Grandes He died this Saturday as a result of cancer that he suffered for just over a year. According to sources close to the writer, the disease has had an unexpectedly rapid outcome. Last October, Grandes revealed that he suffered from this disease in an article published in ‘El País Semanal’: “It all started a little over a year ago. Routine checkup, malignant tumor, good prognosis and a fight,” he wrote. The author who landed in the letters with ‘The ages of Lulu’ and said goodbye with a long series of novels about the long postwar period written from the confiction that “You have to turn the page on the civil war and the postwar period, but first you should have read the page & rdquor ;, it said just a month and a half ago:” I solemnly promise that I will sit again in a booth to sign my copies and look into the eyes of my readers, of my readers “. He wrote it, but it is easy to imagine it said in his deep, powerful voice. He has not been able to keep his promise.

The previous year, Almudena Grandes had been able to participate in the opening of the Madrid Book Fair. The author of the series of novels about the Spanish post-war ‘Episodes of an interminable war’ explained that, during the confinement, two weeks after the declaration of the state of alarm, in five weeks she put together a novel under the following premise: “What would life be like for a mother of an age like mine, with two or four children who never see them again? ». The Tusquets publishing house, in which he has published all his literary work since its inception, is waiting to find out what the future of this unpublished original located in a pandemic scenario will be.

Almudena Grandes, born in Madrid on May 7, 1960, became known at the age of 28 with the novel ‘The ages of Lulu‘, winner of the prize for the erotic novel La Sonrisa Vertical promoted, within the collection of the publishing house Tusquets to which he always remained faithful, by the filmmaker Luis García Berlanga. Collection (and genre) that in the 80s was still experiencing a boom whose end was certified by the death of this collection of pink covers of which Grandes was their best seller. Lulu’s erotic development from the tender age of 13 raised some controversy then, although perhaps it would have done more today. It was made into a movie by director Bigas Luna.

Big, of progressive, republican and feminist convictions, self-proclaimed “red”, she soon passed into the social novel, increasingly with elements of vindication of the recovery of historical memory. After ‘I’ll call you Friday’ (1991) and ‘Malena is a tango name’ (1994), ‘Atlas de geografía humana’ (1998), ‘Los aires humana’ (2002), ‘Castillos de cardboard’ (2004) and ‘The frozen heart’ (2007), which with its account of the adventures of two families framed in the two sides of the civil war already foreshadowed what was to come, its vindication of the literary heritage of Benito Pérez became explicit when undertaking in 2010 a series of novels about the postwar period in Spain framed under the heading ‘Episodes of an interminable war’.

Great was advanced to many in their vindication of the realistic historical frescoes of Galdós, now revalued on the centenary of his death. “Everything that happens to Galdós is as if it happened to me, a personal triumph,” he explained recently.

There will have finally been five, of the six volumes planned by Grandes, the episodes published: ‘Inés y la Alegría’ (2010), a love story in which the invasion of the maquis in the Vall d’Aran and the kitchen were mixed , ‘The reader of Julio Verne’, starring the son of a civil guard involved in the persecution of anti-Franco guerrillas in the Sierra de Jaén in 1947, ‘The three weddings of Manolita’, about postwar poverty, ‘Los patients of doctor García ‘(2017), located in Madrid turned into a nest of spies after the Second World War for which he received the National Narrative Prize and finally’ Frankenstein’s mother “(2020) ‘, in which he addressed the final destination of Aurora Rodríguez, the mother of Hildegart Rodríguez, an 18-year-old girl molded into the ideal modern woman, who ended up being murdered by her mother.

Perhaps some saw the narrative format of Almudena Grandes as anachronistic, but with it he took the wind of the renewed struggle of the last two decades to recover and honor the memory of those defeated in the civil war. In an interview in this newspaper explained that his decision responded to the “desire to exploit a vein of splendid stories yet to be told in addition to the moral impulse to teach the contemporary reader how thousands of women and men risked their lives so that today we could have democracy and freedoms “.

Placed to vindicate the forgotten, his cat was called Negrín, and not just because he was black.

The sympathy reactions they have been immediate. One of them, that of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, who defined her as a “committed and courageous writer, who has narrated our recent history from a progressive perspective.” The Minister of Labor, Yolanda Diaz, was “devastated” by the loss of Grandes and stressed that it represented “conscience” and “courage”. “There are no words to portray this pain, there are no words to say goodbye to Almudena Grandes. She did have words for everything, it was memory, living history of this country. She represented the conscience, the courage, the courage to live and tell it. You fascinated us with ‘The ages of Lulú’ and you wrote some true national episodes of the Spanish twentieth century. I am devastated to lose you and I feel privileged to have met you. Rest in peace, Almudena. We will continue reading you. We will continue to enjoy you, “she wrote.

Also the Minister of Finance, Maria Jesus Montero, has been “shocked” by the death of the author. “A magnificent writer and a better person. A woman of reference where they exist. Always in our memory,” he wrote. The Minister of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda, Ione Belarra, has given the last goodbye to the writer and has sent his condolences to the family. “Almudena Grandes left stories that fill our shelves and our collective memory. Committed and a fighter today she has left us. A huge hug to her family and friends in these difficult hours,” she tweeted. The Minister of Equality has also joined his words, Irene Montero, who thanked Almudena Grandes for always writing “from the gaze of women, from historical memory and from the beauty of words. Always with us.”

The President of Congress, Meritxell Batet, has highlighted Grandes as “a benchmark of contemporary Spanish literature, a great writer, a woman whom I admire and an example for entire generations. How much we are going to miss you, my dear Almudena”, has indicated. The Minister of Culture, Miquel Iceta, has indicated: “Today the Spanish letters and the progressives are in mourning. My condolences to Luis García Montero.” The leader of More Country, Íñigo Errejón, He also wanted to show his condolences for the loss of Grandes, the “narrator of our defeats and dignity.” “Almudena Grandes has died. Narrator of our defeats and dignity. Of the pride of being one of us. May the earth be light for you, companion,” he wrote.

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Almudena Grandes was married to the poet Luis García Montero, currently director of the Cervantes Institute and Izquierda Unida candidate for the presidency of the Community of Madrid in 2015. A family setting that made the news that their daughter, Elisa García Grandes, will be presented this year as a candidate in Madrid for Falange.

His summers in Rota

In recent years, Grandes, together with García Montero and a huge group of goldsmiths of the pen, spent together in summer and moments favorable to rest for Rota, the little paradise they had chosen in Cádiz. There they had a house and there they could be seen on its beaches -especially in Punta Candor- and streets with Felipe Benítez Reyes, Joaquín Sabina, Benjamín Prado, Miguel Ríos or the also deceased and Ángel González & mldr; They all talked about their summer dinners, which ended up becoming eternal between debates about literature, politics or simply life, sometimes drenched in laughter and sometimes in tears, as some of them have recognized when they have tried to describe them in public.

Many of those mentioned have their own street in this Cadiz town of less than 30,000 inhabitants, where the disputed American base is installed and where the winds, the west and the east, are fighting with force, which inspired one of the last and celebrated works of Almudena : ‘Rough Winds’. Winds that have always been present in the verses of the poet from Cádiz par excellence, Rafael Alberti, another benchmark of this group of artists that now loses Grandes, one of its mainstays.

“I have spent the most beautiful vacations in my life here, so I feel like another Roteño. AND All of this began with wanting to live close to Felipe Benítez Reyes, who brought us all, as well as Luis García Montero, Almudena Grandes, and also Miguel Ríos […]& rdquor ;, Sabina said a few years ago in 2017, when he was honored with his own avenue in Rota, where many of his colleagues had already granted it. There they promoted the ‘Noches de Literatura en la calle’, where together with other writers and musicians they met in the open air to pay tribute to literature, also with Almudena at the helm. // Gemma Robles

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