Pilar Quintana was born in Calí in 1972. She began her studies at the Liceo Benalcázar in Calí and later studied social communication at the Javeriana University in Bogotá. After graduating, she worked as a scriptwriter for television and as an advertising copywriter. For three years, she traveled the world and, upon her return, settled in the Colombian Pacific.
Her debut novel »Cosquillas en la lengua« [tr: Tickles on the Tongue] was published in 2003. This was followed by publications of short prose in magazines and anthologies in Latin America, Spain, and Germany. In 2007, the Hay Festival Bogotá selected her as one of the 39 most outstanding writers under 39 in Latin America. In 2010, she received the Premio La Mar de Letras from the Spanish festival La Mar de Músicas in Cartagena for the novel »Coleccionistas de polvos raros« [2007; tr: Collectors of Rare Powders]. In 2011, she represented Colombia in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and participated in an international workshop for writers at the Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2012. Quintana’s texts explore Colombian reality, especially the aspect of violence.
Her story collection »La nueva aventura Caperucita Roja, donde ella se come al lobo« [2012; tr: The New Adventure of Little Red Riding Hood, Where She Eats the Wolf] caused a scandal in Chile with its blatant portrayal of female sexual desires. Quintana made her international breakthrough with »La perra« [2017; Eng. »The Bitch«, 2020]. Damaris, a fortyish black woman, lives in a small village in South America. When her long-term relationship with the fisherman Rogelio fails to fulfill her desire to have a child, Damaris adopts a puppy and now projects her love onto the animal, which visibly takes on a life of its own until Damaris kills it when she realizes that the dog is pregnant. Quintana describes the hard everyday life in this part of Colombia from her own perspective and shows the wounds of a society that is characterized by insurmountable social barriers and a separation of whites and blacks, and whose rules make a childless woman like Damaris an outsider. Quintana tells the deeply sad story in a laconic tone, achieving a high degree of urgency. The novel, which is preserved as a particularly valuable object in a marble time capsule in Bogotá for future generations, received the 2018 Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana and a PEN translation award. The German translation was awarded the LiBeraturpreis 2021.
For her novel »Los abismos« , she received the XXIV Premio Alfaguara de Novela. It tells the shocking story of a girl who looks into the dark corners of the adult world and tries to understand her parents’ conflicted relationship.