22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Sara Mesa

Portrait Sara Mesa
© Sonia Fraga

Sara Mesa was born in Madrid in 1976 and moved with her parents to Seville as a child. She studied Journalism and Spanish Philology. The author is considered one of the most exciting voices of a still young generation of Spanish authors and can already look back on an extensive bibliography.

Mesa gained fame and praise from critics with the collections of stories »No es fácil ser verde« (2008; tr: It’s Not Easy to Be Green), »La sobriedad del galápago« (2009; tr: The Sobriety of the Terrapin), and especially »Mala letra« (2016; tr. Bad Handwriting). Her literary themes concentrate on the deviation from norms, isolation, obsessions, and the hypocrisy of society. The emotional life of children and young people is of particular interest to the author. The celebrated novel »Cuatro por cuatro« (2013; Eng. »Four by Four«, 2020) is set in a boarding school from which four girls stage an escape. In a raw, distanced style and with a wealth of expressive images, disturbing and intriguing at the same time, Mesa creates a microcosm of manipulation and isolation of the students from different family backgrounds, the teaching staff, and the administrative staff. In a certain sense, »Cicatriz« (2015; Eng. »Scar«, 2017) also depicts a microcosm, that of an Internet relationship. Sonia is both repelled by and drawn to Knut, an extraordinary person and perfectionist. Mesa tells this peculiar love story in a concise yet electrifying style. Rafael Chirbes describes her work as »literature under high voltage, worked with the precision of a goldsmith«. Her fourth novel »Cara de pan« (2018; Eng. »Bread Face«, 2020) made it onto every bestseller list in Spain. It is an outsider novel that provokes unease and whose characters deviate from the norm, a game filled with prejudice and fear. A friendship develops between a nearly fourteen-year-old and a man in his fifties. This is not, however, a story about abuse, but about being different, about not fitting into a group or a society. For Michi Strausfeld, the author brings »a new tone to contemporary Spanish literature with her touching story. Every word is right, there’s not one word too many.« In her book, Sara Mesa explores the transition from childhood to adolescence, thus opening up a view of the worries, thoughts, and feelings of an almost young adult. Her fifth novel »Un amor« (2020; tr: A Love) was recently published.

For »Cuatro por cuatro« Sara Mesa was nominated for the Premio Herralde de Novela, for »Cicatriz« she received the Premio Ojo Crítico de Narrativa. Her work has been translated many times. The author lives in Seville.