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The courage of Nuria Amat


The Catalan novelist presents Memoirs of a Free Woman, a passionate x-ray of a literary career: meeting peers in Latin America and the tensions of identity of origin.


Memoirs of a Free Woman


Nuria Amat

(Barcelona, ​​1950) will cause people to talk, if they do so, because rare is the book that manages to give people talk, more on the political side than on the literary one.

It is, perhaps, one of the few defects of her.

The courageous position of its author as a dissident voice in the official discourse of the procés and the nonsense turned nightmare of the Catalan independence movement (and that self-interested operation through which they want to make the majority pass for the all without even having the majority on their side). , his epic live cuts to those who defend that those who write in Spanish in Catalonia cannot be considered Catalan writers (to which Amat responds: do

you mean that Borges is not an Argentine writer, but a Spanish one?

, that Rulfo is not a Mexican writer, but a Spanish one?), will perhaps raise more questions in the interviews that he is asked than his literary work.

And yet, it is impossible not to recognize that these Memoirs offer a tour –often vertiginous– through one of the most personal trajectories of our literature.

A trajectory in which, moreover, it is difficult not to appreciate how Amat's voice went ahead of successive eras, entering areas that would later become canonical (she was also the first to study how the computer was going to change –and in what way– our relationship with the world, and of course it would affect the way of writing literature).

And despite all of this, and the fact that it has been translated into numerous languages, one would say, or I have the feeling, that she is a cult author, barely quoted, not even when reviewing the narrative written by women, not I tell you now when reviews of the Spanish narrative of the last decades are made.

In summary: I think it is beyond any doubt that

Nuria Amat

does not occupy the place in our panorama that her work deserves (hopefully she is deceiving me, but I do not remember having seen her name on any of those lists of candidates that run through the press when she arrives the time to award the grand prizes to an entire career, which honestly, more than an injustice, seems to me a waste).

Amat, in his record of memories, and according to the classic order according to which all life is a story and telling a life is precisely putting order (counting is both "one, two, three, four" and "once upon a time... ”), begins with an impressive chapter about his childhood.

Motherless at the age of 3, she has no memories of her: "Having no memories is my first memory."

The girl who was lives in a house marked by absence, on one side, and by violence on the other: her older brother declares war on her, harasses her, mistreats her, forcing her to make the decision to flee, flee like be.

Dance, music and books will work the magic of fleeing without moving from that house where an absence reigns.

(This fact has been important in his literary work: it appears in one of his best novels, Intimacy, and in that narrative

tour de force

that is Let Life Rain Down on Me).

Without knowing how to read yet, he opens books and makes up what they say.

Literature, even before literature, is already a way of saving oneself and being free.

From the rare to the authentic.

The story takes us, with a steady hand, to an effervescent adolescence that, before the marriage requests of a lover, ends with the decision to go to Paris to study Documentation – Amat's works on Library Science are pioneers.

Double life: that of the young woman who tries to collect academic merits that allow her to earn a living and that of the secret writer who knows long before that her destiny is to be a writer.

Amat paints well, with intense colors, through his own experience, the temperature of the time: it is the seventies, Barcelona is the seat of the Latin American boom, Francoism is dying but everyone fears that it will perpetuate itself.

The review of passions, desires, romances and feminist activism then enunciates a convincing tableau of the Transition that leads to the first ramps of Amat's literary career –and that will lead to marriages, daughters, the literary world, travels, Latin America–.

She does not lose rhythm and compass on any page.

It can be seen, by the way, that at the beginning of it the author herself seemed willing to undermine the luck of her productions: her first novel wanted to be published by Anagrama, but she publishes it in a feminist editorial that would last a breath;

Barral wanted to publish her second novel, but she gives it to a friend who has decided to set up a publishing house that will also last a breath.

They are groundbreaking, unclassifiable books, especially the first,

Wedding Bread

, as is all the work that Amat erected during the 80s and 90s: novels like

We Are All Kafka

, which are authentic carousels celebrating literature, stories and micro-stories such as those that make up Amor breve, texts that are not easy to label in any genre such as the short stories-essays of

The Book Thief

, revisits of myths such as those that make up


, picture books such as the wonderful

Travel is very difficult

, which is presented as a "Manual for peripheral readers"... Anyway, nothing, nobody looks like that Nuria Amat who published her books in Muchnik.

He tells in his


how the break with the great publisher took place.

The agent Carmen Balcells sells her new novel to Alfaguara in the face of an irresistible offer.

I think that, in the literary sphere, there is also an important change: the writer of rare, exquisite, risky books, becomes an authentic novelist without losing an iota of personal intensity, as will be demonstrated by her following works (La Intimidad, El país

del soul, Queen of America

, and in Catalan,

Love and War


Amat recounts that before any positive review of a famous writer, literary gossips immediately hung lovers: Mendoza, Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes and, which already says a lot about the blind gratuity of rumor mill, Juan Goytisolo.

Apparently one could not praise his books without attracting the suspicion of an erotic compensation: the exemplary literary world.

A front door.

In the mid-80s, Amat observes that something is changing in Catalonia.

In the face of the Banca Catalana scandal, Jordi Pujol hides behind the synecdoche – I am Catalonia, if they come after me, they come after everyone – and to the astonishment of many he is successful.

The writer will embark then, without leaving aside her work, increasingly demanding, less festive, in a political activism that will stigmatize her without her agreeing to give in to her attempts to change the course of what will clearly go becoming, because reality oozes fiction, in Kafkaesque.

His last attempt was to encourage and support Manuel Valls as a candidate for mayor of Barcelona.

The Catalan situation has also inspired his latest novel, El sanatorio, a book that, despite its quality, aroused little interest, among other things because it was published by a small publisher without much scope.

There are two essential powers of these


, beyond what they are worth by themselves as testimony of an existence entrusted to the dream of freedom in all fields: for those who do not know the work of Nuria Amat they are a perfect gateway to His world;

For those of us who know it, a precious review that will inevitably lead us to the pleasure of rereading.

Memoirs of a free woman

, Nuria Amat.

The sphere of books, 440 pages.

© The World

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Source: clarin

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