23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Pablo Ramos

Pablo Ramos was born in 1966 in Sarandí, a suburb of Buenos Aires. He has had various jobs – electrician, chef, draftsman, waiter, street vendor – and has also been self-employed. Alongside he played in a rock band, writing  the lyrics for its songs. In 1997, he published an award-winning collection of poems, »Lo pasado pisado« (t: The Trampled Past). While  undergoing treatment for an alcohol problem, short stories from the as yet unpublished collection »Cuando lo peor haya pasado« (2005; t: Once the Worst Is Behind Us) won two major awards: the first prize of the Fondo Nacional de las Artes and a Prize awarded by the Casa de las Americas. Since that time, Ramos has been a professional writer. He achieved international fame with his first novel.

»El origen de la tristeza« (2004; t: The Origin of Sadness), portrays the end of childhood though three self-contained episodes. Argentina’s moral and economic devastation, brought about by its military dictatorships, serves as a backdrop to the story. The protagonist grows up among has-beens, cranks, drunks and cynics in a broken down neighbourhood where violence and hopelessness prevail. As the leader of a youth gang, he slides into the world of petty crime. He makes older friends from on the margins of society, such as a cemetery guard and a homosexual musician, who give him glimpses of hope. His childhood – idyllic in spite of adversity, problems with his father, and sexual anxieties – comes to an abrupt end with the death of a friend in a robbery. Ramos’ nuanced prose manages to be at once unsparing and humorous. Although he takes inspiration from his own life and emphasises the impact of personal experiences, the idea of the »literary lie« is essential to his work, »I firmly and deeply believe in fiction. Take reality apart and insert the necessary lies: to make the reader feel what you have felt, you have to lie.«

The following novel, »La ley de la ferocidad« (2007; t: The Law of Ferociousness) shows us the protagonist from the first novel as a young man. He has come into money and is tormented by vague and anxious feelings of dissatisfaction. A self-indulgent fiend, he finds escape through drugs and prostitutes. In 2008, the newspaper »Arcadia« selected the novel as one of the ten best published in Colombia that year. Ramos’s works have been translated into Portuguese, French, and German.

The author is currently working on his third novel. He leads creative writing workshops and divides his time between San Salvador de Bahía, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2009, he was awarded a prestigious Artist-in-Berlin grant by the German Academic Exchange Service for a one year stay in the German capital.

© international literature festival berlin


Lo pasado pisado
Buenos Aires, 1997

Cuando lo peor haya pasado
Buenos Aires, 2005

La ley de la ferocidad
Buenos Aires, 2007

Der Ursprung der Traurigkeit
Frankfurt/Main, 2007
[Ü: Susanne Mende]