Xabier Puente Docampo

Portrait Xabier Puente Docampo
© Xurxo Lobato

Xabier Puente Docampo , born in Spanish Rábade in 1946, is one of Galicia’s leading writers of children’s and young adults’ literature. After finishing his studies he worked as teacher, columnist, scriptwriter, editor for Radio Nacional de España, actor and director for theatre and television. Furthermore, in 1989 he was a founding member of the Asociación Galega do Libro Infantil e Xuvenil (GALIX), whose board of directors he was on for five years. Ever since his debut in 1986, with »O misterio das badaladas« (t: The mystery of the chimes), he has published more than twenty volumes of stories, first reader books, and novels for children and young adults, which have been translated into Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Portuguese. Alongside his literary work, Docampo has been involved for over three decades with teacher training and the advancement of teaching methods. He has written essays on teaching and education, co-written several school books in Galician, and edited the »Revista Galega de Educación« as well as »Fadamorgana«, a magazine dedicated to children’s and young adults’ literature.

His texts, often set in the rural environments of Galicia and which deal with the traditional roots of these areas, are rich in atmospheric, permitting his young readers to delve directly into the plot. In doing so, an intensive examination of the oral narrative traditions of his homeland gets imbued in Docampo’s work. »What matters most to me is language itself, to recover the word, to have the oral form function ›as if listening to something‹.« Ever more the author explores the limits of human reason, as his characters are confronted with inexplicable events. Docampo shapes his stories with cinematographic zest, and lets them shift indeterminably between dream, magic and reality. Among his most well-known works is the award-winning collection of horror stories »Cando petan na porta pola noite« (1994; t: Knocks on the door at night), a homage to the great storytellers of his homeland. The horror here arises not from ostensibly surprising effects, but rather through the meticulously described nightmarish atmosphere. The protagonists get drawn into situations which they do not understand and over which they have no power: one man encounters his doppelganger, another has his death announced on his birthday each year, through letters of condolence.

Xabier Puente Docampo has been honoured with numerous prizes, among them the Premio Feira do Libro de A Coruña (1989) for the complete narrative works of a Galician author. »Cando petan na porta pola noite« was awarded the Premio Rañolas (1994) and the Premio Nacional de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil (1995). Two of his books have been included in the White Ravens Catalogue of the International Youth Library in Munich, one of them the illustrated book »Bolboretas« (2004; t: Butterflies), which tells, through poetic pictures, about falling in love. Docampo has a grown up son and lives with his wife in A Coruña.

© international literature festival berlin