Isaac Rosa

Portrait Isaac Rosa
© Hartwig Klappert

Isaac Rosa was born in Seville in 1974 and studied journalism in Badajoz. His first novel, »La malamemoria « (t: The bad memory), was published in 1999. In 2007, a revised version of this novel was published entitled »¡Otra maldita novela sobre la guerra civil!« (t: Another damn novel about the Spanish Civil War!), which points self-deprecatingly to the recent »inflation of books about the Civil War« in Spanish literature. The work centres on an author’s search for a village that simply disappeared during the Spanish Civil War and concerning whose erstwhile existence nothing seems to be known. In addition to the novel’s original text, each chapter is followed by comments made by a fictional reader whose critiques target the novel’s weaknesses in terms both of its form and content. This self-reflexive technique allows the author to act as critic of his own novel, published years before.

Rosa became internationally known through his award-winning second novel »El vano ayer« (2004; t: Yesterday’s false hope), in which he again deals with Spain‘s recent history. In a multi-layered, fictional investigation, the author tracks the fates of literature professor Julio Denis and a student who opposes Franco’s dictatorship. Both disappear during the 1960s student protests in Madrid. Called a »radiography of the Franco regime« by the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«, the novel’s numerous narrators portray events from different perspectives, projecting several versions of history. What results is a tight web of narratives that trace an episode of police surveillance under Franco, but also, with the help of ironic and self-reflexive passages concerning the novel’s creation, examine the process of remembering. Rosa is particularly interested in memory’s liberation from the standard clichés and stereotypes that influence most novels and films and »corrupt our knowledge of history to an unimaginable degree, replacing memory with repulsive nostalgia.« Rosa’s newest novel »El país del miedo« (2008; t: The country of fear) reflects human fears in modern society. The anxieties of the protagonist Carlos, who lives with his wife and son Pablo in a conventional residential area of a large city, are substantiated and given a life of their own when he discovers that Pablo has been mistreated by a classmate. Through clear language and an unemotional style, Rosa not only explores the origins of everyday fear and the mechanisms through which it spreads, he also establishes who benefits from it.

The author’s work has received awards including the prestigious Premio Rómulo Gallegos (2005) and the Premio Fundación José Manuel Lara (2009). He has two daughters and lives in Madrid.

© international literaturefestival berlin