Almudena Grandes counts as one of the most successful Spanish authors of the present day. She was born in 1960 in Madrid where she studied Geography and History. After completing her studies, she worked in a publishing company and on ‘El País’. In 1997 she received the Italian Rossone d’oro prize for her complete work, in 2002 she was awarded the Premio Julián Besteiro de las Artes y las Letras. Her books were translated into over 20 languages.
Grandes’ first novel ‘Las edades de Lulú’ (1989) brought her overnight success and the prize for erotic literature, ‘La sonrisa vertical’. Here she tells the story of Lulú, her puberty and her growing up during the time of the Franco dictatorship. She has her first sexual experiences at an early age, is seduced by an older family friend and marries him. After separating from him, her excursions into the world of tireless desire take on more compulsive and bizarre forms. It appears that the protagonist can no longer find an exit from the whirl of constant new and eccentric adventures. Being the first erotic novel written by a Spanish woman, the book caused a vehement debate. ‘Lulú’ is a novel showing the character development of a strong female heroine who is confronted with the contradictions of the sexual morals of Spanish society but who, nevertheless, isn’t destroyed by them.
‘Te llamaré Viernes’ (1991) is concerned with Benito, a Robinson Crusoe of the roof terraces of Madrid, the island of the metropolis. He regularly falls in love with women from his imagination. Finally, he finds in Manuela his ‘Friday’, a woman who understands enough of life to see through his helpless power fantasies.
From the short story ‘Balkongespräch’, from the story volume ‘Modelos de mujer’ (1996), came the film ‘Aunque tú no lo sepas’ by Juan V. Córdoba. Here the adventurous journey of a woman from Madrid’s old town through the world of the nouveau riche, chic, in-crowd is told. In ‘Atlas de geografía humana’ (1998), the reader learns about four women, who are working at a publishing house on an atlas of ‘human geography’. Through the different narrative perspectives, the novel gives an account of these womens’ past, their work, their romantic relationships and their friendships. The perspectives cross each other, run parallel or alongside each other.
In her book, ‘Los aires difíciles’ (2002), Almudena Grandes turns away from her earlier first person narratives and from Madrid as a major setting of her stories. A man and a woman, two failed big city dwellers, independent of each other, flee to a village on the bay of Cádiz where the presence of the landscape slowly makes the memory of the past in the big city fade.
© international literature festival berlin