Over the last few years, Spanish publishing has seen a boom in the production of auto-fiction writing. Authors such as Laura Alcoba, Esther Tusquets, Soledad Puértolas, Javier Marías and Enrique Vila-Matas have all played with the genre over the years, however, recently, more contemporary authors are taking the plunge into this ever-debatable genre. Below I recommend three recent examples:
Cambiar de idea, Aixa de la Cruz (Caballo de Troya, 2019)
After publishing four works of fiction, with Cambiar de idea, Aixa de la Cruz turns to auto-fiction. Prompted by the approach of her thirtieth birthday, de la Cruz adopts the ‘memoir monologue’ to chronicle the pivotal points in her young-adult life. She explores the mistakes she has made, the low points she has suffered, and how these have made her who she is today. As she reflects on what she considers to be her transition into adulthood, de la Cruz lays everything bare: the good, the bad and the ugly. Her stream-of-consciousness style takes us through explorations of violence, memory, politics, literature, societal norms, and relationships, all through the various lenses of the different stages of the author’s life (such as high-school, university, becoming a mother). Whilst Cambiar de idea can sometimes feel almost self-indulgent, de la Cruz just manages to avoid this. She is, of course, writing about her individual experience, but she always forges a universal space in which readers are able to find connections to, and perhaps even reflections of, their own experiences.
Feria, Ana Iris Simón (Círculo de tiza, 2020)
Feria is Simón’s first publication and has been described as an ‘ode to a Spain that no longer exists’. The book takes readers on a journey through Simón’s childhood, and includes family photographs. Prompted by tales her grandparents told her, Simón dives back into her experience of growing up in rural Spain. She reflects on what it was like being the grandchild of fair (‘feria’) owners and of farmers, and the innocence that such an environment created. Her lyrical, oftentimes magical, writing invites readers to reflect on themes such as tradition, lineage, language and territory. Most importantly, Feria helps us remember that the only thing that sustains us is, in the end, memory.
These two works of auto-fiction have been met with great critical acclaim in Spain, and I hope to see them in English soon.
La aurora cuando surge, Manuel Astur (Ancantilado, 2022)
Another recent release that I am looking forward to delving into is Manuel Astur’s La aurora cuando surge. Like de la Cruz, until now, Astur has only written fiction, but with this publication he has chosen to delve into his family’s past, to learn from the great masters who have walked the same path before him, to come to terms with his deepest pains and fears, to celebrate his recently passed father, and ultimately to reconcile his moments of greatest happiness and amazement with those of melancholy and mourning. After reading his brilliant novel, San, el libro de los milagros (published in Claire Wadie’s translation by Peirene Press in July 2022 as Of Saints and Miracles) I am very excited to see what Astur’s auto-fiction has to offer.
You can read my short overview of San, el libro de los milagros HERE.
By Alice Banks (aka ‘La Española’)
Alice Banks is a creative and literary translator from French and Spanish based in Madrid. After studying the MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia, Alice began working with the European Literature Network as an Editorial Assistant. She also volunteers as a copy editor for Asymptote Journal and is a publishing assistant at Fum d’Estampa Press.
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