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

Bibliography

Novel

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 FliesCold Skin is literary horror that deals with the basist forms of human behavior imaginable, while exploring why we so vehemently fear the Other.

 

 

Short stories and novellas

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.

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.

Non-fiction

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. 


Other genres

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.

Prizes

  • 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