The death of the Spanish writer Almudena Grandes

Hundreds of people spontaneously surrendered on Monday, November 29, with a book in hand, to the civil cemetery of Madrid where the novelist Almudena Grandes, who died two days earlier of cancer at the age of 61, was buried . Alongside this crowd of anonymous, many political and artistic personalities were also present, from the socialist head of government, Pedro Sanchez, to the filmmaker Pedro Almodovar via the writer Luis Leandro and the star artist of the song and the Ana Belén cinema.

Born on May 7, 1960 in Madrid, the writer, author of about fifteen books, enjoyed immense popularity in her country, which some have compared to that of José Saramago in Portugal, although the reception of her work by literary institutions was more reserved for it. A talented narrator, a prolific writer, this unconditional Atlético football club figure for many embodied the figure of a strong, committed left-wing woman. “Very red”, as she liked to proclaim herself.

Almudena Grandes, who had grown up under the Franco dictatorship, had fully experienced the “movida” madrilenian, this cultural movement appeared a few years after the death of Franco’s death in 1975.

Characters of uninhibited women

From this slice of life, marked by a liberation of morals and consciences, she had drawn her first book, published in 1989, Loulou’s Lives (Albin Michel, 1990), an erotic novel that has become a bestseller, translated into twenty languages. She recounted the loves and fantasies of a woman at two ages in her life (15 and 30), exploring with a freedom then unheard of in Spain the theme of female desire. Adapted the following year to the cinema by the director Bigas Luna, it had allowed her to give up her work as editor of encyclopedic articles to devote herself to writing.

Other characters of uninhibited women will come to feed her following books, such as the teenage protagonist of Malena is a tango name (Plon, 1996) with which it will consolidate its success, and the heroines of Atlas of human geography (Grasset, 2000), exposing their dreams, their passions and their disappointments.

But more than the intimate sphere, the history of contemporary Spain was the true passion of the novelist, to which she devoted most of her work. Addressed in Headwinds (Grasset, 2003), the themes of civil war and Francoism were the major concern of the novel The Frozen Heart (JC Lattès, 2008), a turning point in the work of the writer. Over nearly a thousand pages, covering three generations, it features two characters from families on opposite sides – one a Phalangist, who prospered under the Franco regime, the other a Republican, exiled in France, dispossessed of everything -, falling in love with each other.

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The death of the Spanish writer Almudena Grandes