María José Ferrada was born in Temuco, Chile, in 1977. She completed a Master’s degree in Asia-Pacific Studies at the University of Barcelona and became known as the author of numerous books for children and young adults, some of which have been translated into several languages. She began writing her first poems and stories for her fifteen-year-old brother; her first book, »12 historias minúsculas de la tierra, el cielo y el mar« (2005; tr: 12 Tiny Stories of the Earth, the Sky, and the Sea), was self-published. Since 2010, her books have been published by both Spanish and Chilean publishers.
Particularly noteworthy is the multi-award-winning collection of poems »Niños« (2013; tr: Children). Dedicated to the minors among the victims of political violence and oppression during the Chilean dictatorship, the poems circle the hopes and dreams of the children and young people, describe details of their lives, and make them tangible as individuals. The book also presents a way to negotiate painful topics for young readers and reflects the author’s conviction that children and young people also need literature to reflect on historical and social events and developments. »Niños« received many awards, including the Premio Academia of the Academia Chilena de la Lengua for the best literary work published in Chile, as well as the Literary Prize of the City of Santiago in the category of youth literature. In 2017, María José Ferrada published her first novel for adults under the title »Kramp« (Eng. »How to Order the Universe«, 2021). As a girl, M, the protagonist, is taken on sales tours of the villages by her father D, who works as a salesman for the hardware brand Kramp. Adventurous things happen, including cigarettes, whiskey, and sales commissions in the form of toys or envelopes of money. Meanwhile, M’s mother, shrouded in a mysterious sadness, seems to live in her own world. M’s clever but still childlike view of the events only slowly reveals to the reader what this novel is also about: Chile at the time of the dictatorship with all its cruelties. M must realize that she is only a minor character in a larger story. Written in a »precise, concise language, without frills or decoration« (»El Mundo«), the novel was awarded three of the most important Chilean literary prizes: the prize for the best novel of the Círculo de Críticos de Arte, the prize for the best published literary work in the category novel of the Chilean Ministry of Culture, and the literary prize of the city of Santiago.
The author lives in Santiago de Chile.