Barcelona, España, 1961
Clara Usón holds a degree in law from the University of Barcelona. She was a practising lawyer for 20 years, keeping her secret vocation of writing on the backburner. She has lived in London and in the small Mexican town of Valle del Bravo. In 1998 she published her first novel, Las noches de San Juan, which was awarded the Premio Femenino Lumen. One decade on, she had published another three novels that were very well-received by critics, standing out for their originality, vast imagination and refined sense of humour. With La hija del Este (The Daughter from the East), sold for publication in 7 languages, Clara Usón became the first woman to win Spain’s National Critics Prize after it was awarded to men for 40 consecutive years. She was awarded the Premio Biblioteca Breve for Corazón de Napalm, a novel that lies halfway between historical essay and fiction, also highly praised by the critics.
- "A tremendous novel that establishes this author as one of the great European writers of our time." Ana María Moix (referring to La hija del Este)
- "Woody Allen would enjoy this moving and joyful novel." Enrique Vila-Matas (referring to El viaje de las palabras)
- "An unusual, fun and ironic book that draws the reader into the unique literary world of Clara Usón." Ángeles Caso (on El viaje de las palabras)
El asesino tímido - 2018
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Literature Prize 2018
Built around suicide, which Camus considered the only truly serious philosophical problem, Clara Usón has written a novel based on her own history, full of humour, philosophy, and devastating revelations.
Clara Usón explores Sandra Mozarowski’s turbulent career as an actress in Spanish nude films in the 70s, and draws parallels with her own life. The actress died at the age of 18 after throwing herself off the balcony of her home, although rumour has it she was murdered by Spain’s intelligence services after being impregnated by King Juan Carlos. The author finds tragicomic resonances with her own process of self-destruction, and the complex relationship she maintained with her mother from childhood.
This is the true story of two women, two generations who come into conflict when the country’s reality changes with the advent of democracy, bringing down the curtain on the dark decades of Francoism. The mother is an alcoholic, cloistered in spite of herself in the domestic role assigned to women during the years of dictatorship. The daughter, like Sandra Mozarowski, is caught up in the years of liberation and excess, convinced the future belongs to her, never realizing it might be taken away.
“Because El asesino tímido (The Shy Assassin) is undoubtedly one of her most brilliant books, written in prose that manages to trap the reader from the first page…El asesino tímido confirms Usón as one of the best contemporary authors, but also makes us look inside ourselves, even if that means finding a reflection, an image that might be too real.” Víctor Fernández, La Razón
“If the novel, as Usón herself points out, is what Cervantes called "unleashed writing in which everything fits" (a true statement if ever there was one), there’s no doubt we’re dealing with a novel that deserves to be savoured by a good number of readers.” Ovidio Paredes, Huffington Post
“Clara Usón undertakes an open-heart self-portrait. At the same time, this intra-family history of Spain going from the [Franco] Regime to the Transition, with a hated mother and self-destructive daughter, also recounts the life of the young muse of nude films, Sandra Mozarovski, likely lover of King Juan Carlos, who died under suspicious circumstances. The secret of these digressions is resolved by Usón’s mastery as one of the greatest prose writers in recent years.” Babelia, 21 April 2018
“Full of deep reflections, between tragedy and comedy, the book reveals a mature craft.” El Mundo. Tendències, 19 April 18
“A pop novel where mysterious threads join the narrator to Mozarovski, Pavese and Wittgenstein to explain that there’s nothing more coherent than delirium.” Marta Sanz
"The author as a child, adolescent and young woman, not just a narrator and researcher, gradually takes ownership of the story until it culminates in the final revelation (becoming confessional, almost expiatory). This is undoubtedly the most outstanding chapter in a book true to Cervantes’s tradition of ‘unleashed writing’." Ana Rodríguez Fischer, Babelia
"A sensational book. Brave, surprising, wild and loving". Marta Sanz
"Irony, intrigue and tragedy go hand in hand in a work with which Clara Usón returns to show off a truly enviable narrative mastery". Forbes
"A strong combination; bitter in some parts and intriguing in many others. It won’t leave you indifferent". Fernando García, La Vanguardia
"Activating her own memory, she has managed to articulate an intimate portrait of the vital contradictions that define an entire generation when it comes to managing the failure of an illusion of change". Jaime Iglesias, Gara
"Plagued with reflections, between tragedy and comedy, the book reveals a mature voice". El Mundo
“A wonderful story.” Concita de Gregorio, La Repubblica
“An intense novel about life and our relationship with death; about growing up and learning to reflect upon the years of youthful recklessness with respect, in which we can find the presence of Ludwig Wittgenstein when he said that ‘only death gives meaning to life’.” ANSA, Cultura
“A book that talks about the thing we should silence, the ones we can’t say but that, in reality, are the only ones that matter.” Il Fatto Quotidiano
“Clara Usón is a brave writer as few are, powerful when handling images and words, acrobatic and ungraspable. We have no choice but to paraphrase her (and Pavese) —although now I am talking about life and not death—, when we find ourselves face to face with this novel, and we see our reflection in it”. Antonella Latanzi, Tuttolibri
“El asesino tímdo, by Clara Usón, is a little miracle”. Cristina Battocletti (Il Sole)
“Creative and experimental works such as El asesino tímido is what our age needs, which asks for literature to, above all, surprise the reader and to appear alive even at the expense of putting itself at risk”. Antonio Debenedetti (Corriere della Sera)
Valor - 2015
A branch manager of a bank from the east of Spain who has sold preferred stocks. A young soldier, Fermín Galán, who decides to put his republican ideals into practice and bring about a revolution in Jaca, in 1930. A fanatical priest in the Jasenovac concentration camp in the Independent State of Croatia during the Second World War. They all face situations where they have to accept a risk, but their courage to the test, in the interest of what they hold most important: revolution, faith, money, in comparison with which conscience is just a weak barrier. "Courage" explores the wounds of the past and the greatest rupture in contemporary mankind. The reader will be astonished by glimpses of times, places and people, forming a novel which, ultimately, tackles the complexity and contradictions of human nature.
La hija del Este - 2012
Beautiful, intelligent and outgoing, Ana has a bright future ahead. She is the best medical student in her class at Belgrade, and the pride and joy of her father, the Serbian general Ratko Mladic, whom she adores. One night, after a trip to Moscow, at the age of 23, Ana Mladic takes her father’s favourite gun and makes a decision that will change her family’s life forever. What happened in Moscow? Did Ana see the other side of her father, her hero, regarded by many as a war criminal? The tragedy of Ana Mladic adds a familiar, real, and nearby dimension to the terrible drama of the war in the Balkans, Europe’s most recent conflict and the background of this absorbing novel.
"A magnificent literary text in which past and present are merged wisely, encompassing a century of confrontations, disgrace and crimes through the painful experiences of the elusive, enigmatic protagonist." Juan Goytisolo
“Few cases such as that of Ana Mladic reflect the full immensity of a fate that no human being can avoid: the loss of innocence. A tremendous novel, which establishes the author as one of the great European writers of our time.” Ana Maria Moix
“Someone said that the 21st century novel would mix truth with relativism, sincerity with irony, construction with deconstruction, and hope with melancholy. Clara Usón’s novel has all of this and something more important: humanity.” Kirmen Uribe
Corazón de Napalm - 2009
En 1984, Fede acaba de cumplir trece años: ya no es un niño, aún no es adulto, sólo es un problema. Se ha escapado de la casa de su padre y su madrastra, dispuesto a vivir intensamente emulando a Sid Vicious. Pronto entiende que su lugar está junto a su madre, de la que nada sabe desde hace un año. Su aventura transcurre en paralelo con la de Marta, una pintora alocada, que ve con ironía y escepticismo la trastienda del mundo del arte. La conmovedora historia de un niño que elabora su propia interpretación del mundo y la lleva hasta sus últimas consecuencias.
Perseguidoras - 2007
La novelista Clara Usón retrata con sutileza, intensidad y humor la vida de tres hermanas que, como en el drama del autor ruso Anton Chéjov, persiguen una vida digna de ser vivida, lejos de una normalidad asfixiante. Tres mujeres que no pierden la esperanza y que intentan escapar de un futuro anodino, aunque a veces eso signifique una huida.
El viaje de las palabras - 2003
Almandoz, una joven barcelonesa que a finales del siglo XX está atravesando una crisis personal y vive atenazada por el temor a un futuro anodino, se ve inesperadamente transportada al año 1892. Ataviada con sombrero y polisón, aparece en la finca que tiene en Melijovo, Rusia, el escritor Antón Chéjov, cuya obra conoce y admira. Pero al placer de tratar en persona con el gran escritor se suman no pocos inconvenientes: Lucía debe justificar su insólita presencia en el seno de la numerosa familia Chéjov, así como acostumbrarse a la rutina de un siglo extraño, sin agua corriente ni letrinas, y en el que las mujeres independientes despiertan recelos.
Primer vuelo - 2001
Laura Alonso tiene treinta y cinco años y un piso de propiedad. Es socia de uno de los mejores bufetes de asesoría fiscal de la ciudad y tiene una relación más o menos estable con un hombre inteligente y capaz. Se considera una mujer equilibrada y razonablemente satisfecha. ¿Qué hace entonces en un diván de psiquiatra hablando de la mujer de su amante? ¿Por qué ya no le importa si sus clientes pagan o no a Hacienda? ¿Por qué tiene pánico a vivir en pareja?
Noches de San Juan - 1998
En su primera novela, dionisíaca y transgresora, Clara Usón describe el ambiente abigarrado y marginal de feriantes, homosexuales, chulos y travestís, congregados en torno a las fiestas de San Juan en Ciutadella. A través de los ojos de Juani, una feriante poco agraciada de preciosos ojos verdes, fantasiosa, patética, ingenua y cruel, entrevemos el mundo cambiante de las discotecas, las barracas de feria, los festejos populares, los amores de folletín y los culebrones televisivos en que ella se mueve.
- 2018 - Premio de Literatura Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz for El asesino tímido
- 2014 - Prix Bouchon de Cultures 2014 (France) for La hija del Este
- 2014 - VIII Premio per la Cultura Mediterranea (Italy) for La hija del Este
- 2013 - Premio Nacional de la Crítica for La hija del Este
- 2013 - Premio Nacional de la Crítica for La hija del Este
- 2009 - Premio Biblioteca Breve for her novel Corazón de Napalm
- 1998 - Premio Femenino Lumen for her novel Noches de San Juan