22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Xosé Antonio Neira Cruz

Portrait Xosé Antonio Neira Cruz
© Ali Gandtschi

Xosé A. Neira Cruz, born in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela in 1968, ranks among the most prominent Galician authors of children’s and youth literature. He studied Italian philology and graduated in Communication Studies at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, where he has been teaching and researching cultural journalism and children’s literature since 1999. Neira Cruz has worked in television, radio and the newspaper business, curated exhibits, and was president of the IBBY-ASAHI Reading Promotion Awards jury (2002-2004). In addition he founded the literary magazine »Fadamorgana« and was in charge of the children’s and youth literature division of the Editorial Galaxia publishing house. Since his literary début, »Ó outro lado do sumidoiro« (1988; t: On the other side of the sewer), he has published more than 20 first reader books, stories, collections of poetry, novels, plays and biographies of Galician authors. Certain books of his have been adapted for stage. Translations of his work are available in seven languages.

Neira Cruz artfully interweaves reality and fiction in his work. Legends, history and art provide him a starting point for his wide-ranging body of work. In »Valdemuller« (1998; t: Valley of women), one of his best-known books for children, the 15 year-old Mina undertakes a dangerous journey on the track of a family secret which irrevocably changes her life. Neira Cruz probes the boundaries of social acceptance and focuses on those on the margins. Giving them a voice is of utmost importance to him: »This is an act of particular justice that literature allows us. Because writing also means creating a world as we would wish it for ourselves«, the author said. In books such as his thriller »As cousas claras« (2000; t: Clear things), he powerfully portrays the protagonist’s sometimes painful search for identity. His passion for the Italy of the Renaissance and the works of the Old Masters inspired Neira Cruz to write the book »O armiño dorme« (2003; t: The sleeping stoat). Written in diary form, it tells the story of Bianca de Medici – an illegitimate offshoot of the Florentine dynasty – and takes a genuine look at the hard life of a woman in the sixteenth century. Arresting, quick-witted and with illuminating references to art, the writer recounts – starting from a painting by Bronzino – the thoughts of his young heroine.

Xosé A. Neira Cruz has received the Premio O Barco de Vapor award, as well as the Premio Merlín. »O armiño dorme« has been included in the White Raven’s Catalogue of IJB Munich and was awarded the Premio Raíña Lupa in 2002. His children’s play »A noite da raíña Berenguela« (2005; t: The night of queen Berenguela) received the Premio Lazarillo in 2004. Neira Cruz has been recently entrusted with the preparation of the thirty-second IBBY Congress, which will take place in his home city in 2010.

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