Barcelona, España, 1965
Albert Sánchez Piñol is an anthropologist and writer. A member of the Centre d’Estudis Africans, his work has taken him on frequent trips to a variety of African countries. In 2000 he published Payasos y monstruos, a satirical essay on eight African dictators. His first novel, La piel fría, surprised critics with its strength and originality, it achieved excellent sales figures and was translated into more than 30 languages. Pandora en el Congo was also very well received by critics and the public alike, and his most recent novel, Victus , which narrates the War of the Spanish Succession, questioning official versions of this episode in history, has achieved phenomenal sales, establishing Albert Sánchez Piñol as the most international of Catalan’s contemporary writers.
- “Pandora en el Congo marks Sánchez Piñol's emergence as a significant European writer.” The Guardian
- “Sánchez Piñol’s originality lies in his themes and excellently structured plot... This is an impressive and most unusual novel.” The Independent
- “Sánchez Piñol is taking giant steps towards the most read Catalan writers of all time pedestal.” El Periódico
All the secrets of story-telling from the author of Cold Skin
Many writing and scriptwriting manuals promise magic formulas that are supposed to guarantee the success of your story. Les estructures elementals de la narrativa is no exception, except for a couple of details: the formula it proposes is not magic, but rather a scheme that is as simple as it is revealing because it holds all the secrets of narrative efficiency.Read more
Short stories and novellas
Books for children and young readers
“A thrilling, ironic and absolutely irreverent adventure novel.”
1888. Ric-Ric is a poor devil, a ragged anarchist without a pot to piss in, except for his cave deep in the Catalan Pyrenees. In these mountains, crisscrossed by smugglers and criminals, he happens upon a mushroom species unknown to the civilised world: the Fungi, gigantic anthropomorphic mushrooms that Ric-Ric accidentally brings to life. Marvelling at the Fungi’s extraordinary abilities and sense of community – except for Petitó, who’s been marginalised for being small and a free thinker – Ric-Ric sees them as his definitive weapon for realising his desires. He wants to win the heart of the lovely Mailís, a reluctant femme fatale; establish an anarchist society of true brotherhood; and get revenge on everyone who’s treated him cruelly, from the Civil Guard to the local innkeeper who thinks he’s lord and master of the Pyrenees. With the monstrous Fungi under his command, Ric-Ric manages to bring together an invincible army to take into epic battles, along with a meticulous military strategy to use against the Spanish and French armies.
Albert Sánchez Piñol defines this novel as “A 19th-century winter western set in the Pyrenees.” This book marks his return to the unclassifiable genre full of adventures, boundless imagination, and not without humour that he himself coined with Cold Skin and Pandora in the Congo.
“A book that allows you to surf the crest of the wave, which represents the thirst for power, the way it can be obtained and the people who truly support it.” Dani Vilà, El Punt Avui
“Fungus is a novel with mushrooms that contain fictional substances with psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects that will disturb and amuse you. You will notice its effects just after a few minutes of reading. Albert Sánchez Piñol is not crazy, he has just been touched by the magical wand of literature.” Josep Vicenç I Eres, Núvol
“We are in front of a very visual novel. Quentin Tarantino, for example, would definitely make a spectacular film about this book. It is not hard at all to imagine it.” Cristina Vila, Empordà
“An ambitious multidisciplinary project that reflects on the nature of political power.” Francesc Miró, eldiario.es
New adventures of Martí Zuviría
After the episode featuring the epic fall of Barcelona in 1714, recounted in the memorable novel Victus, military engineer Martí Zuviría was obviously destined to a long life full of outrageous adventures.
His eventful existence takes him to South Carolina in 1715, where he finds himself in the middle of a conflict between British colonists and Yama Indians. He meets face-to-face with a real historical figure, the great chief Caesar. His next destination is another conflict, this time back in Spain, where he fights along with his friend and recent enemy, the Duke of Berwick, in the French-Spanish War of 1719. We encounter him again 24 years later, living comfortably at the service of Frederick II, until a delayed revenge takes him back to Barcelona and an unexpected reunion. Finally, in 1768, Martí’s troublesome personality prompts him to set sail on a ship commanded by none other than Captain Cook.
These four episodes allow us to reconnect with a unique narrative voice, so we can be moved by it all over again.
Why do the weak fight against the strong? At 98, Martí Zuviría ponders this question as he begins to tell the extraordinary tale of Catalonia and its annexation in 1714. No one knows the truth of the story better, for Martí was the very villain who betrayed the city he was commended to keep.
The story of Catalonia and Barcelona is also Martí’s story. A prestigious military engineer in the early 1700s, he fought on both sides of the long War of the Spanish Succession between the Two Crowns—France and Spain—and aided an Allied enemy in resisting the consolidation of those two powers. Politically ambitious yet morally weak, Martí carefully navigates a sea of Machiavellian intrigue, eventually rising to a position of power that he will use for his own mercenary ends.
A sweeping tale of heroism, treason, war, love, pride, and regret that culminates in the tragic fall of a legendary city, illustrated with battle diagrams, portraits of political figures, and priceless maps of the old city of Barcelona, Victus is a magnificent literary achievement that is sure to be hailed as an instant classic.
It is 1914. In the heart of the Belgian Congo, Garvey, a bedraggled British manservant, emerges from the jungle. He is the lone survivor of a mining expedition in which both his masters have died, and all of the party's African porters have fled. With him, he carries two huge diamonds.
From his prison cell in London, Garvey recounts his horrific and thrilling ordeal. Young Tommy Thomson is assigned to transcribe Garvey's story and only he can untangle the extraordinary mysteries of the Garvey case.
Shortly after World War I, a troubled man accepts a solitary assignment as a “weather official” on a tiny, remote island on the edges of the Antarctic. When he arrives, the predecessor he is meant to replace is missing and a deeply disturbed stranger is barricaded in a heavily fortified lighthouse. At first adversaries, the two find that their tenuous partnership may be the only way they survive the unspeakably horrific reptilian creatures that ravage the island at night, attacking the lighthouse in their organized effort to find warm-blooded food. Armed with a battery of ammunition and explosives, the weather official and his new ally must confront their increasingly murderous mentality, and, when the possibility of a kind of truce presents itself, decide what kind of island they will inhabit. Equal parts Stephen King, a phantasmagorical Robinson Crusoe, and Lord of the Flies, Cold Skin is literary horror that deals with the basist forms of human behavior imaginable, while exploring why we so vehemently fear the Other.
“It haunts me after I read it. A splendid book.”–Enrique Vila-Matas, Spanish writer
“Remarkable… an addictive and unsettling read.”–Alan Warner, writer
“A cross between Jules Verne and Dino Buzzati’s The Tartar Steppe, a philosophical tale wrapped in a gripping plot, a meditation on solitude, violence and what it means to be human, a great, creepy, tender read.” –Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi
"After The Tale of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe, we have seldom experienced at the same time shivers, uneasiness and fascination.”–Pere Gimferrer, Spanish Academic, poet and novelist.
"A troubling, hammering but glorious novel which I read with all the self-possession of a drug addict: a sort of bastard offspring of 'All Quiet On The Western Front' and JG Ballard." –David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas
“ It’s the wonder of wonders. I am totally fascinated.”–Fischer, publishers, Frankfurt
“Pinol has created something really marvellous and genuinely strange at a time when so much fiction is by comparison so dill. There is an exuberance to the storytelling which is infectious and I am very excited at the prospect of publishing it (…) Thanks for bringing Albert’s fiction into my life.” –Canongate, publishers, Edimburgh
“The narrative of Sánchez Piñol is consistently suggestive.”–Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, publishers. New York
“A deranged book... A fever dream with an internal logic even more compelling than that of The Chants of Maldoror. I devoured [Cold Skin].”–Charlie Hebdo, Paris
“Sanchez Pinol creates a struggle for survival that is, at the same time, a meditation on humanity.”–Toby Litt, The Times
"...it shows itself to be akin to Lord of the Flies or Heart of Darkness rewritten as pulp-horror schlock." –The Independent on Sunday
Short stories and novellas
80 stories to read in two minutes, from the author of Victus and La pell freda
Written to be read on the radio.
En estos trece relatos, el autor nos pasea de forma fantástica y con humor por varias situaciones que no hay que asumir de mal grado, por realidades que a menudo queremos obviar y que él nos presenta con su ojo clínico de antropólogo. Hay un esquimal que huye de un oso, ¿o quizás es el oso quien huye del esquimal? Y un armario que se traga misteriosamente una mujer. Y un espantapájaros que quiere hacerse amigo de los cuervos. Y la excéntrica tripulación de un barco fantasma. Son trece patrañas modernas en que el autor combina magistralmente la fantasía, el humor y la existencia cotidiana.
Se ha dicho que un buen cuento es como un poema, donde todos los elementos funcionan con un equilibrio tan ajustado, que el movimiento más leve (una línea más, una frase menos) lo hace tambalear hasta el derrumbe. Los cuentos que conforman Las edades de oro participan de esta filosofía, y así lo demuestran los golpes de efecto de los dos relatos que abren el conjunto: Torna aviat y el espléndido
La cuca del Congo. Después, la fuerza de una narrativa original y fresca se lleva el lector hacia una experiencia placiente y turbadora, singular y divertida.
All the secrets of story-telling from the author of Cold Skin
Many writing and scriptwriting manuals promise magic formulas that are supposed to guarantee the success of your story. Les estructures elementals de la narrativa is no exception, a part from a couple of details: the formula it proposes is not magic, but rather a scheme that is as simple as it is revealing because it holds all the secrets of narrative efficiency.
Taking as examples masterpieces of universal literature, Hollywood blockbusters and successful HBO series, Albert Sánchez Piñol, best-selling author and translated into numerous languages, explains how to structure a storyline in a narratively successful way and how a plot should be organised to keep the audience on tenterhooks.
A very funny manual, full of examples and constant conspirational winks directed at the reader, a must for storytellers – whatever format they use – and for anyone who wants to explore the hidden details of the enjoyment of the experience of reading, going to the movies or watching television series.
“As only a great writer can, Sánchez Piñol has succeeded in explaining the principle of the three-act structure with enormous clarity, simplicity, accuracy and amenity, with a touch of humour and audacity far removed from university gloom.” Enric Gomà, Núvol
“Sánchez Piñol describes his narrative praxis so clearly that the book can be read – and this is how future scholars of his work will read it – as a poetic that reveals to us how he has tackled literary creation.” Bernat Puigtobella, Núvol
This is the story of Idi Amin Dada, Bokassa, Banda, Mobutu Sese Seko, Sékou Touré, Haile Selassie, Macías and Obiang. They were ignorants and they undertook the role of masters. They were insignificant and they thought they were gods. It’s the story of a handful of African dictators. Those men displayed themselves in front of their people and in front of the whole world as exceptional beings. In fair correspondence with their alleged merits, they gave themselves highflown titles as Leader of Iron, Lord of all the Beasts of the Earth and the Fishes of the Sea, or Unique Miracle; they had themselves carried in gestatorial chair; they obliged their peoples to address prayers to them; they hanged their portraits in schools, churches, taverns and brothels, and the gave their names to streets, universities, islands and lakes.
Nothing was impossible for those guys: they could transfer the capital city of their country to a remote village in the jungle, or deposit the treasury of the National Bank in their own basement. If they decided so, a witch would become the head of the Parliament. Any whim became true by their will. They were clowns but they were monsters too. And in monsters, extravagance is indistinguishable from fright. Their subjects suffered the whole spectrum of horrors. If only they had not been our contemporaries, we would be tempted to negate their existence. But they were real. That’s why we have decided to let them depict themsleves in their own words.
Books for children and young readers
Adaptación de la novela de Albert Sánchez Piñol a cómic, con guión de Carles Santamaría, dibujos de Cesc F. Dalmases y color de Marc Sintes.
Una familia del Matarranya (Bajo Aragón) esconde un secreto ancestral: cerca de la masía donde vive aparecen unas misteriosas luces, un fulgor sobrenatural que se hace visible dos noches al año, entre la maleza de un extraño bosque. Según la tradición familiar las luces son una puerta a otro mundo, de donde nadie vuelve al cruzarla, y esconden su existencia a los habitantes del pueblo más cercano. El bosc parece emanar de esa secuencia: una masía, una puerta dimensional y la Guerra Civil como telón de fondo son los dispares elementos que se manejan sin recurrir a la distancia irónica, ni al ya gastado choque cómico entre costumbrismo español y claves fantásticas percibidas como algo ajeno, inasumible para una mirada condicionada por años de tradición realista. Albert Sánchez Piñol adapta su relato El bosc, incluido en el libro Les edats d’or, densificando las relaciones entre sus personajes. Se subraya el sentido último de la historia: que todos somos el Otro del Otro y que una Guerra Civil, más que conflicto de otredades, es encrucijada de prejuicios.
- 2006 - Premio Crítica Serra D’Or for Pandora al Congo
- 2005 - Premio Grinzane – Francesco Biamonti for La pell freda
- 2003 - Premio Ojo Crítico de RNE for fiction