Javier Cercas [ Spain ]
Javier Cercas was born in Ibahernando, Spain, in 1962. Fascinated by Jorge Luis Borges’ works he wanted to become a writer. He studied Spanish literature at the Universidad Autònoma of Barcelona, did his PhD and subsequently spent two years as a lecturer at the University of Illinois, USA. Since 1989 he became a professor for Spanish literature at the Universitat di Girona. He is a full writer today.
He published his first collection of stories »El móvil« (Eng. »The Motive«) in 1987. Soon afterwards his debut novel appeared: »El Inquilino« (1989; Eng. »The Tenant«, 2005) is the story of a professor of literature who has to face his worst fears when his competitor moves into the flat next door, takes over his lectures, and finally steals his girlfriend. Using irony, Cercas plays with the famous motif of the double and the idea of a second reality. As with Borges, irony, the paradox of the »real narration« and auto-references play a major role, also in his later works. His novel »Soldados de Salamina« (2002, Eng. »Soldiers of Salamis«, 2004) became a great success in 2001. It is based on an anecdote according to which the co-founder of the fascist Falange, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, only survived the Spanish Civil War because the member of a firing squad loyal to the government who caught him let him go. The narrator of the story, a journalist, tries to find the unknown soldier. He investigates the case, talks to witnesses, encounters barriers − and yet wants to write a »story based on reality«. Cercas adopts a narrative strategy which has the reader participate in the origin of the novel, and thus ponders the question of what is true and what false. After his novel »La velocidad de la luz« (2005; Eng. »The Speed of Light«, 2006), which deals with the Vietnam War, the author dedicates his most recent book »Anatomía de un instante« (2009; Eng. »The Anatomy of a Moment«, 2011) again to Spanish history. In this book, which was intended to be fiction, Cercas analyses in detail and in a story full of suspense the activities of the Spanish Head of State Adolfo Suárez and two more politicians during the attempted military coup of 23 February 1981. The dramaturgy of a political chronicle »like in the great Greek tragedy, has us witness a grand act of resistance against the permanently repeating infamy of history« (Alberto Manguel, »El País«). In addition to his novels and novellas, Cercas has published texts on literary studies, and translations. He regularly contributes to »El País«.
Javier Cercas has received several Spanish and international awards, including the Premio Salambó and the Premio Nacional de Narrativa of Spain, the International Foreign Fiction Prize in United Kingdom, the Grinzane Cavour in Italy and the Athens Prize for Literature in Greece. The writer lives in Barcelona.
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