Antonio Muñoz Molina

Portrait Antonio Muñoz Molina
© Hartwig Klappert

Antonio Muñoz Molina was born in the Andalusian town of Úbeda in 1956. He studied journalism in Madrid and art history in Granada. There he worked for the municipality, and published first articles and his prizewinning first novel »Beatus ille« (1986; En. »A Manuscript of Ashes«, 2008) about a young Ph.D. student who follows the traces of a Republican poet sentenced to death in the Civil War. He received two awards for the novel that made him famous: »Un invierno en Lisboa« (1987; En. »Winter in Lisbon«, 1999). In his story about the pianist Santiago Biralbo and his lover Lucrecia, the wife of a petty offender, who specializes in art theft, Muñoz Molina combines a love story, a detective story, and a tribute to Jazz music. The author gained international acclaim with his autobiographical novel »El jinete polaca« (1991; En. »The Polish Rider«, 1991), for which he received the distinguished Spanish Premio Planeta literary award. Composed with virtuosity and linguistic intensity, and featuring a plot that covers several time levels, the book deals with the last century in the history of Spain. Its hero Manuel, an interpreter in New York, reconstructs the history of his fictitious birth place Mágina in Andalusia piece by piece. Muñoz Molina is particularly interested in the Spanish Civil War, Francoism, and the continuing inner conflicts in Spanish society. His extraordinarily dense recent work »La noche de los tiempos« (2009; tr. The Night of Memories) bears witness to the recent Spanish past, a history full of conflicts. During his long escape from Madrid to the USA in 1936, the architect Ignacio Abel remembers his passionate affair with an American woman named Judith. Against the backdrop of the fanaticisms of the time, Muñoz Molina brilliantly associates individual destinies with the events of the Civil War. »I was not satisfied, when I read what this world was like. And since I did not experience it myself, I had to invent it. Which you can only do in a novel«, the author explained.
Muñoz Molina’s extensive literary oeuvre − consisting of twenty novels and short story collections − has been translated into twenty languages, and has won him numerous awards (including the Premio de la Crítica in 1988, and the Premio Nacional de Narrativa in 1988 and 1992). Some of his books have been turned to movies. He also published several anthologies of essays and articles, and regularly writes blogs. He became the first representative of a new generation of Spanish writers in the Real Academia Española in 1995. Antonio Muñoz Molina lives with his wife Elvira Lindo in Madrid and New York City, where he was the director of the Instituto Cervantes from 2004 to 2006.

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