Madrid, España, 1956

Although she was born in Madrid, until the mid-1990s Irene Gracia lived in Barcelona, where she studied music, and subsequently painting and sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts. Considered to be one of the most personal voices in recent Spanish literature, Irene Gracia has gradually distanced herself from the realist prose of her early novels to move into the world of fantasy literature. She is also the author of various short stories that have been published in a range of anthologies, as well as boasting a vast visual output. Her most recent novel, El alma de las cosas, is accompanied by her own illustrations.

  •  "Irene Gracia has been a revelation to me. She is a very capable writer who speaks of suffering and touches me as a reader very deeply. Her literature is evocative and wild, with great wit and emotion." Roberto Bolaño
  • "Irene Gracia is aware of the magic power of true words. She offers us a lesson on true literature." Ana Rodríguez Fischer
  • "I love all of Irene Gracia’s books. I think she’s our most secret writer. Those wounded, lunatic beings who inhabit her books are strange, always full of a dark, melancholy beauty." Gustavo Martín Garzo

Bibliography

Las amantes boreales is the story of the deep, abysmal friendship between Roxana and Fedora, two young girls from Saint Petersburg’s upper middle class, during the most tumultuous and definitive period of Russia’s October Revolution.

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Novel

Las amantes boreales is the story of the deep, abysmal friendship between Roxana and Fedora, two young girls from Saint Petersburg’s upper middle class, during the most tumultuous and definitive period of Russia’s October Revolution.

After being expelled from the Imperial School of Dance, Roxana and Fedora enrol at Palastnovo, a boarding school full of double meanings and double standards, located on a remote island on Lake Ladoga. Like a counterpoint concert, their voices reach the reader as a series of opposing and complementary stories, in which the lyrical and existential tension turns the text into a subtle exploration of the diffuse boundaries of love, intimacy, learning, and the traps often hidden in what we call fate.

 

 

After watching the theatre where they were performing his opera, Ondina, burn and collapse into a pile of ashes,  writer E.T.A. Hoffmann brings the entire company together for a sumptuous dinner to celebrate the fact that everyone has survived the disaster. Hoffmann actually suspects that the fire was intentional, which is why he urges his dinner guests to drink and take turns telling stories, confident that their stories will help him discover the arsonist’s identity.

Among the guests’ stories, which overflow with imagination and romance, we encounter a robot doll indistinguishable from its human copy, a Napoleonic soldier brought back to life by a melody, the fearsome and immortal Countess of Báthory, a talentless pianist who sells his soul to the devil for the audience’s applause, and a woman – Botticelli’s muse – who abandons her husband to follow an angel she’s fallen in love with.

Abandon all hope, ye who read this novel

The paths of six characters immersed in a personal nightmare cross in a city devastated by war, where violence, death and barbarism dominate the streets. In many ways, Terrible accidente del alma is a descent into hell. The author of this novel spares the reader no atrocities: incestuous rapes, murders, wretched sexuality. At the centre of this dystopian world, to our horror, the desolation of human souls appears before us. 

This cruel, radical approach, along the same aesthetic lines as Cormac McCarthy and Elfriede Jelinek, offers no unreal compensation to soothe the reader. Rather, it focuses on reviewing, without subterfuge, a moral scale for calibrating the reality of our time.

Last Night I Walked on Water is a narrative in two dimensions in which myths, chasms, heavens and hells collide. In the realm in which the characters of this novel move, the mysticism of vice is almost the same as that of virtue and the two seek the same elevation. The virginal Elisa who will, however, come to have intimate relations with the Devil, does not pursue higher purposes than her boyfriend Bruno, but their paths do not end up converging, or they only converge in the abyss. Last Night I Walked on Water is an involving, sensual novel in which the Devil has a lot to say, interwoven with the rumour of Eros and the desire to project ourselves in horizons as wide as desire itself.

Roberto Bolaño regarded Irene Gracia as “a revelation”, and she has proven this again with El beso del ángel. The novel explores the complex existence of four characters of angelic origin at key moments in history: a priestess from the Oracle of Delphi; a Greek goddess who is a contemporary of Jesus Christ; a disciple of Leonardo da Vinci; and a dancer at the Palais Royal. All four are born with bumps on their backs, having lost their wings to live among humans, and all four discover love in Adanel, a beautiful, immortal and cursed angel.

“Beyond the grandiose scenarios and unreal creatures, the narrative proves and explores that which is immutable about the human condition: longings, desires, fears, appetites, dreams, defeats and death. And it poses disturbing questions: Does God deserve his power?.” Ana Rodríguez, El País

“Possessed of the grace of an uncommon, original and courageous nature, El beso del ángel explores the conflicts that winged beings have maintained with mankind since times immemorial, when the magical and mystical coexisted with the more human carnality and sensual passion.” Yolanda Izar, El Norte de Castilla

“Surprises us with its epic and lyrical characters.” Joaquín Arnaiz, La Razón

Cada capítulo es una iluminación que nos va introduciendo en el mundo de Anatol Chat y su familia, enteramente dedicada a la fabricación de autómatas y toda clase de replicantes, y obsesionada por reducir el mundo para así poder abarcarlo y comprenderlo.

¿El hombre y la mujer son algo más que un disfraz el uno para el otro? ¿En qué lugar se produce la conexión de las almas? ¿En qué lugar del cerebro o en qué lugar de la piel? ¿Qué le ocurriría a un ser cuyo cuerpo fuese el campo de batalla donde se enfrentan las dos caras de la moneda humana? ¿Qué le ocurriría a un ser que fuese un hombre manifiesto y a la vez una mujer secreta que desde la oscuridad interpreta las más alucinantes canciones de amor?

Las tres voces furiosas que tejen esta narración son las de tres hermanas que se acercaron tanto al espejo de la fábula que en realidad lo atravesaron, y encarnan, cada una a su manera, dualidades muy amargas, pulsiones muy poderosas de las que no son culpables y que no dudan en apurar hasta el último momento.

“Siempre que pienso en él su fantasma viene después a visitarme, y ya no le rehuyo como antes, y hablo con él sin prisas y sin miedo. El hecho de que sólo podamos encontrarnos en sueños me obliga a pensar que también antes -siempre- el sueño fue nuestro único lugar de encuentro. Por haberlo evocado de nuevo, sé que esta noche irrumpirá en mis pesadillas…  Yo fui la primera en ver en él algo que los demás no veían, y la última en aceptarlo.”

Fragmento de la obra de Irene Gracia.

Prizes

  • 2014 - Premio de Novela Breve Fundación Juan March Cencillo for Anoche anduve sobre las aguas
  • 1994 - Premio Ojo Crítico for Fiebre para siempre