Manuel Vilas

Portrait Manuel Vilas
© Lisbeth Salas

The Spanish writer Manuel Vilas (Vidal) was born in Barbastro in 1962.

His literary texts are rich in irony and parodies, and Vilas takes up various popular myths and reflects on the capitalist economic order. He made his début as a poet in 1982. A volume of collected poems was published in 2010 under the title »Amor«; a complete edition was published in 2016. Vilas published his first of six novels published to date in 2008. In »España« he combines a realistic discourse with visionary images. His most recent novel »Ordesa« (2018) was a bestseller in Spain, was voted Book of the Year by several newspapers, and the rights were sold to the USA, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Croatia and Albania. A very private background story served as the impulse for Vilas to write this autobiographical novel: This mother died in 2014 and he got divorced at the same time. Over the course of this experience, he remembers the Spain in which he grew up and which no longer exists, causing him to feel uprooted. At the same time, however, he also touches on universal themes: the perception towards the past, the peculiarities of the parent-child relationship, the breakdown of family ties, the death of loved ones, the separation of relatives, the vulnerability of the individual, and the need to search for new paths even after the greatest losses – in other words, the mystery of life itself. In his novel, Vilas combines reality and fiction, prose and poetry; his journey of thought from a clearly defined present to the past of memories offers a broad readership a space for to identify with. »One of the most human, deepest, and most comforting books I have read in a long time«, said the writer Lorenzo Silva. Manuel Vilas has also published volumes of short prose, »Zeta« (2014) and »Setecientos millones de rinocerontes« (2015; tr: Seven Hundred Million Rhinos). His Facebook posts are summarized in the book »Listen to me« (2013).

His works have been translated into Portuguese, French, and German and have received numerous awards, including the XVII Premio Internacional de Poesía Generación del 27, the X premio Llanes de Viajes and the Premio de las Letras Aragonesas. His poems and stories have appeared in various Spanish anthologies. As a journalist he wrote for »Heraldo de Aragón« and »El Mundo« as well as for the literary supplements of various periodicals such as »La Vanguardia«, »Babelia« (»El País«), and »ABC Cultural«. He currently works for »El País« and »Cadena Ser« and lives in Madrid and Iowa City.