Barcelona, España, 1933 - Barcelona , 2020

The literary career of Juan Marsé – one of the most significant and beguiling in Spanish narrative during the second half of the twentieth century – began in the year 1958 when he started to publish his short stories in literary journals while working in a jewellery workshop. One of these stories earned him the Premio Sésamo. It would be the first of a long list of awards, including the Premio Biblioteca Breve, Premio Planeta and Premio Nacional, which would culminate in 2008 with his winning the Premio Cervantes. Linked to the so-called Generación del 50, along with his friends Jaime Gil de Biedma, Carlos Barral and Juan García Hortelano, among others, Juan Marsé creates a narrative world that focuses on the Barcelona of the post-war period, the setting of his childhood, to which he would return time and time again.

  • "Juan Marsé’s contribution to European fiction has been consistently remarkable." The Times Literary Supplement
  • "I consider Juan Marsé the best narrator Spanish literature has given us in many decades." Ignacio Echevarría
  • "L'écriture de Juan Marsé est empreinte de cette finesse, de ce travail minutieux qui sont les qualités premières de l'orfèvre qu'il fut autrefois. Son matériaux est l'or pur du souvenir. Il ratisse sa mémoire et fait pousser sur les ruines du passé les fleurs subtiles de l'imaginaire." Télérama
  • "Over time, Juan Marsé's world and his narrative style have acquired a wisdom that only the very best writers are capable of." Enrique Vila-Matas
  • "He has never written a single page were something interesting isn't happening." Eduardo Mendoza


In 1962 Juan Marsé toured the provinces of Seville, Cadiz and Malaga accompanied by his friend Antonio Pérez and the photographer Albert Ripoll Guspi. His intention was to write an account of that trip, interspersing photographs and headlines from the Francoist press in such a way that his story would penetrate the reality silenced by officialdom. 

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The definitive selection of the best stories by Juan Marsé, featuring unpublished material.

Juan Marsé’s literature draws on oral narrative and stories rescued from the Barcelona neighbourhoods where he grew up. The post-war period, cinema, political and cultural satire, irony and melancholy, imposture and split personality, childhood and parenthood are some of the constants found throughout his works, which make him a genuine and unique narrator.

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“My next novel will deal with the ruses and traps set by our memory, that very distinguished bitch”

Even though he detests the movies made by the director and producer requesting his services, an author famous for depicting the moral ruin of the post-war period in his novels reluctantly accepts a job to write a screenplay about a true case from 1940s Barcelona. The crime occurred at the Delicias Cinema, where a prostitute was murdered in the projection room, strangled with movie tape while the public attended a premiere of Gilda.

During the research process, the writer will discover that sometimes, in real life, crimes lack meaning, and their protagonists are not always heroes or antiheroes, something not everyone seems willing to tolerate in fiction.

In this splendid novel, Juan Marsé, transformed into a sceptical writer, incapable of taking himself seriously, reflects on the tricks of memory and the limits of fiction, while settling accounts with those who manipulate our past to create simple entertainment products, misrepresenting historical memory and trivializing the pain and misery of an entire generation.

"Nourri de références au 7e art, Cette putain si distinguée est surtour un hommage émmouvant, tout en nostalgie, aux vieux cinémas de quartier où tout pouvait arriver; le meilleur comme le pire." Ariane Singer, Le Monde 

A delicious, tender and melancholy story that recalls the most world's most painful moments of the 20th century

Bruno is a solitary teenager who works as an apprentice in a bakery on the Plaza del Sol and lives with his mother in a modest rented flat on Congost Street, on the outskirts of the Gracia district.

As Barcelona undergoes a historical transformation in preparation for the Olympics, which will turn it into a renewed, modern city, Bruno tries to earn some extra money picking up newspapers on the streets. He does so at the request of Mrs. Pauli, the elderly Polish lady who lives upstairs and is actually a bit mad. She uses sheets of newspaper to make paper airplanes, which she flies out the window with happy messages to feed the dreams of the disadvantaged. However, all of her paper airplanes land aimlessly in the middle of Congost Street.

Bruno picks them up and returns them to the old lady, and realises that he can see what seems to be invisible to the adult eye: the misery, humiliation and traces of pain from the past that lurk among the city's forgotten shadows. 

When Señora Mir lays her body across the abandoned tracks for a tram that will never arrive, she presents Ringo Kid with a riddle he will not unravel until after her death.

In Ringo's Barcelona, life endures in the shadow of civil war - the Fascist regime oversees all. Inspired by glimpses of Hollywood glamour, he finds his own form of resistance, escaping into myths of his own making, recast as a heroic cowboy or an intrepid big-game hunter. But when he finds himself inveigled as a go-between into an affair far beyond his juvenile comprehension, he is forced to turn from his interior world and unleash his talent for invention on the lives of others. And all the while he is left to wonder –what could have happened to Señora Mir that day to send her so far beyond the edge of reason?

The Calligraphy of Dreams is a luminescent coming-of-age novel with a devilish twist. Reminiscent of Atonement and The Go-between, it is the culmination of the life's work of one of the greatest living Spanish men of letters.

Cualquier mujer sentada en un bar de alterne sabe que el comportamiento de un hombre que lo ha perdido todo menos la vida es un misterio. Quien no se lo crea, que vaya y pregunte a las chicas del Lolita’s Club, un tugurio cerca de Barcelona donde venden caricias a granel. Entre tanto sexo cansado, de repente una sonrisa, una voz alegre: es Valentín, un hombretón de treinta años que hace y piensa como un niño, un alma simple que circula llevando orgulloso las bandejas cargadas de consumiciones y consolando con palabras tiernas los males de Milena, una joven colombiana que él adora.

David's alcoholic father, who is being pursued for political reasons, has deserted David and his attractive red-haired mother. David inhabits a fantasy world, fuelled by the films he sees at his local cinema and by images of war –Spitfires crashing into the sea, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima– and by the image of an RAF pilot whose photograph is pinned on his bedroom wall. David and his friend spend their time collecting detachable lizards' tails; symbolic of the detachment and uncertainty which characterises their young lives in troubled post-war Spain.

Lizard Tails was winner of the Spanish National Narrative Prize (2001).

Un relato original de Juan Marsé, dedicado a la memoria de Juan Carlos Onetti. Publicado originalmente por episodios en el diario El País e incluído más tarde en Cuentos de La Isla del Tesoro.

En la Barcelona de la posguerra, el capitán Blay se pasea por el barrio acompañado por los espectros gimientes de sus hijos muertos. En aquellas calles conocerá a los hermanos Chacón, quienes custodian la verja de entrada de la casa en la que convalece Susana, una niña enferma de los pulmones, hija de la señora Anita y de Forcat, un revolucionario huido del país. Llega a la casa un amigo y compañero de viaje de Forcat, que narrará a los niños la aventura que el padre de la niña emprendió en Shanghai.

An accurate and ironic portrayal of social contrasts during Catalonia’s period of greatest openness and revival of the Catalan language. Juan Marés cannot accept that his wife has left him. To reconquer this lovely lady of the upper-middle class, he decides to pass himself off as a southern Spanish immigrant named Faneca, and approach her with new manly airs.



Situada en plena Guerra Mundial, y ambientada en el barrio barcelonés del Guinardó, narra la azarosa relación entre un viejo policía y una niña en el umbral de la pubertad. La niña debe reconocer el cadáver del hombre que supuestamente la atacó.

Antes de que lo encarcelasen por guerrillero y atracador de bancos durante la primera posguerra, hace trece años, Jan Julivert Monn había enterrado su pistola al pie de un rosal, y todos en el barrio pensaban, con el miedo de los vencedores o la ilusión de los vencidos, que el día que volviera la desenterraría para emprender su sangriento ajuste de cuentas... Sin embargo, el presidiario regresa a casa con los sueños de venganza cicatrizados y con la única intención de rehacer una vida que ya todos dan por perdida.

Luys Forest, viejo escritor falangista, viudo y con un prestigio literario ya reducido a casi nada, se dedica a escribir su memorias, en las que retoca su pasado para convertir hechos vulgares, desagradables o incómodos en lo que le parece más novelesco, poético u oportuno. A su lado, su sobrina Mariana le acosa y combate las fabulaciones mentirosas del escritor. Pero en este juego de rehacer interesadamente la verdad de su pasado va a darse una cascada de sorpresas.

Según el propio Marsé, al escribirla sólo pensaba en los anónimos vecinos de un barrio pobre que ya no existe en Barcelona, en los furiosos muchachos de la postguerra que compartieron con él las calles leprosas y los juegos atroces, el miedo, el hambre y el frío, en su propia infancia y adolescencia. La novela está compuesta por voces diversas, contrapuestas y hasta contradictorias, voces que rondan la impostura y el equívoco, que tejen y destejen una espesa trama de signos y referencias, y un ambiguo sistema de ecos y resonancias.

La novela arranca con la visita de un hombre, diez años después, al lugar donde se fraguó la tragedia. Nada queda del antiguo esplendor del chalet de sus tíos, la adinerada y católica familia de los Claramunt. Todo empezó cuando su prima, Montse Claramunt, joven consagrada en la orden seglar de las Visitadoras a la caridad y el proselitismo entre el pueblo llano, conoció a un presidiario -estudiante ateo, atractivo y ambicioso, procedente de las capas más bajas de la sociedad- y quiso convertirlo en su protegido.

Last Evenings with Teresa constitutes one of the milestones of mid-20th century Spanish narrative. Awarded Spain’s Short Novel Prize in 1965, it established the author as one of the most representative writers of modern European literature.

On these pages, we witness the birth of one of the most powerful, enduring literary geographies of our time, post-war Barcelona written against the quiet light of memory. And we also encounter two characters whose long, happy coexistence with several generations of readers has turned them into mythical figures, the ideal embodiment of their time: Teresa, a rebellious, left-wing university student, daughter of the Catalan bourgeoisie, and an attractive, socially ambitious immigrant from Murcia known as the “Pijoaparte”. Their love story reflects all the contradictions of an era, the splendour and misery of the social classes, the naivety of easy commitment, and the bitterness and resentment of losers, those inhabitants of an inner exile in which, forged by so many defeats, they still dream like children.

Last Evenings with Teresa is not only one of the great dramas of my life, but also of many people my age (…) It has everything one can ask of a novel; it seems written in a state of grace.” Javier Cercas

 “The Pijoaparte, so accurate in his naturalism, such a character of the miserable real world, is also a classic hero of novels, one of those young people who are blown away by the breadth of their desires and the designs of their own will, who always appear in Stendhal, Balzac, Maupassant and Flaubert.” –Antonio Muñoz Molina

 “Between illusions and realities, with his own free creative will – the opposite of the recipe for a social novel - Juan Marsé offered a memorable panorama of 1950s Barcelona and its wild heroism.” –Lluís Izquierdo

La obra describe la historia ejemplar de Miguel Dot, joven periodista de buena familia con vocación por la rebeldía, que intenta establecerse en la otra cara de la luna social. Su recorrido le devolverá al punto de partida.

La vida de unos jóvenes de la posguerra sufre una convulsión ante la decadencia moral y finalmente la muerte de una mujer próxima a ellos. Enfrentados a uno de los peores aspectos de una realidad mezquina, traducen su indefensión psicológica en el rechazo. Novela de sentimientos en lucha por no truncarse, es al tiempo una denuncia de unos años que estaban muy lejos de ser triunfales.

Short stories and novellas

The definitive selection of the best stories by Juan Marsé, featuring unpublished material.

Juan Marsé’s literature draws on oral narrative and stories rescued from the Barcelona neighbourhoods where he grew up. The post-war period, cinema, political and cultural satire, irony and melancholy, imposture and split personality, childhood and parenthood are some of the constants found throughout his works, which make him a genuine and unique narrator.

The nine stories featured in this private collection, revised especially for this edition, are texts that have marked Juan Marsé’s journey through life and literature over the years, from “Historias de detectives” (Detective stories) to “Noticias felices en aviones de papel” (Happy news on paper airplanes), not to mention the legendary “Lieutenant Bravo” and the playful “La liga roja en el muslo moreno” (The red garter on the dark thigh).

These carefully selected stories are followed by a variety of journalistic pieces covering the people and places that would later appear in Marsé’s most important novels. Finally, this volume ends with an unpublished text the reader won’t want to miss.

 "Juan Marsé’s contribution to European fiction has been consistently remarkable." The Times Literary Supplement

"I consider Juan Marsé the best narrator Spanish literature has given us in many decades." Ignacio Echevarría

“Marsé’s ‘aventis’, cinema, epic vigour, humour and satire are intermingled in a sort of literary vade mecum of the writer par excellence for Barcelona’s Guinardó district.” Beatriz Pérez, Fugas, La Voz de Galicia

 'Juan Marsé: la verdad imaginada', por Marc García, CTXT, Público, 3/5/2017

Three masterful stories. In Historia de detectives (Detective Story), four boys in a dented, rusty Lincoln give free rein to their fantasies. A scathing, ironic, pathetic and often funny critique of the stubborn bravery of a Francoist soldier is portrayed in Teniente Bravo. Finally, in El fantasma del Cine Roxy (The Roxy Cinema Ghost), myths of the silver screen coexist with present-day reality.


A lost story by Marsé finally published

In 1962 Juan Marsé toured the provinces of Seville, Cadiz and Malaga accompanied by his friend Antonio Pérez and the photographer Albert Ripoll Guspi. His intention was to write an account of that trip, interspersing photographs and headlines from the Francoist press in such a way that his story would penetrate the reality silenced by officialdom. Because of financial problems and the pressure of censorship, this magnificent literary and political document that was due to be published by the legendary publishing house Ruedo Ibérico, founded in Paris by a group of Spanish exiles shortly before, never saw the light of day and for a long time it was thought that the manuscript had been lost.

Signed under the pseudonym of Manolo Reyes – the real name of Pijoaparte, who would star a few years later in Últimas tardes con Teresa (Last Afternoons with Teresa), the novel which consecrated Marsé – this book languished under another title in the archives of Ruedo Ibérico in Amsterdam. Following painstaking investigations, Lumen has managed to recover the story almost sixty years after it was written, including the original photographs.

Lying somewhere between travel writing, political denunciation and the modern photo story, Viaje al sur (Journey to the South) is a social and moral portrait of a Spain emerging from the post-war period and about to undergo a decisive transformation. It is a dazzling story that already displays Juan Marsé’s extraordinary ability to capture voices, portray characters and recreate atmospheres.



Recorrido por cien escenas y anécdotas cinematográficas seleccionadas por el autor. Entre las películas escogidas se encuentran clásicos como Lo que el viento se llevó, ¡Qué bello es vivir! o como otras, menos populares entre las que destacamos El Increíble hombre menguante o El ladrón de Bagdad, seleccionadas y descritas por el autor con su estilo personal.

Todas las estrellas, grandes o pequeñas, las más refulgentes y universalmente conocidas y las de luminosidad más limitada y estrictamente nacional, todas las que habitan la infinita y fantasmal galaxia del celuloide, vivas o muertas, mitificadas u olvidadas, suelen arrojarse luz mutuamente y están unidas por lazos profesionales, a veces muy estrechos y fogosos, otras veces distantes y fríos, rozándose ocasionalmente o enviando luz a través de terceros.

Recopilación de retratos que Juan Marsé publicó en las décadas de 1970 y 1980 en la revista Por Favor y el diario El País.

Durante su etapa como redactor jefe de la revista satírica Por Favor, el chorizo que da voz a estos relatos fue apoyándose en la actualidad para ir desgranando una serie de apuntes, acotaciones, chistes o sarcasmos acerca de temas tan variados como la traumática aparición en España del escritor ruso Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, los manejos de Fraga Iribarne, una supuesta conspiración internacional contra el Real Madrid o una semblanza de Lana Turner. Es una crónica de época en clave de humor mordaz.

Recorrido por los acontecimientos de la sórdida posguerra. El volumen abarca todos los ámbitos de la información: política internacional y nacional, economía, cine, deportes, etc. Juan Marsé es el responsable de los textos, de la elección de temas y de la selección fotográfica. Incluye dos discos de vinilo: uno con voces de la época y marchas e himnos militares; y otro con canciones populares y de películas.

Una visión muy personal e inolvidable de dos apasionantes décadas: los treinta y los cuarenta. Juan Marsé revisita tanto personajes, como aspectos emblemáticos de las letras, los deportes, el cine y el devenir político de aquel momento a través de imágenes originales de la época.

Books for children and young readers

On his seventh birthday, Lucas receives a very special gift: the Borsalino hat that belonged to his grandfather, and featured in so many of the stories he told. It may be a bit too big, but whenever Lucas puts it on, he immediately becomes an old-school detective. His first case is just around the corner: who is behind a string of strange robberies in his neighbourhood?

Un relato para niños en el que se cuenta cómo Amador se harta un día de sus juguetes electrónicos, se va al Valle y descubre el río Lobo y a una rana cascarrabias. Juntos construyen una balsa pirata y navegan inventando aventuras y palabras. De repente, el río desaparece y los dos amigos inician su búsqueda.


Juan Marsé colaboró en la escritura del guión de esta coproducción europea sobre peripecias amorosas en la Costa del Sol entre un escritor francés y la hija de un rico industrial.

Anthology / Selection

Este libro rescata sus textos iniciáticos, críticas de cine, teatro y televisión, entrevistas a folclóricas y toreros, consultorios sentimentales y retratos que le elevaron a maestro del género. Polemista, valiente, ágil, sincero, divertido y contundente, esta antología abarca desde su periodismo bajo censura hasta el preludio de la libertad de expresión. La selección, avalada por el autor, demuestra que sus textos perdidos mantienen la vigencia de todo clásico y que el buen periodismo sólo es buena literatura apresurada. Aunque Marsé no se lo crea.

Antología de textos editada por José Méndez y titulada con el nombre de uno de los alter egos de Marsé, Juanito Marés.

Cuento erótico incluido en la antología El fin del milenio


  • 2016 - Premio Liber (Feria Internacional del Libro España)
  • 2011 - Premio Cultura de Comunidad de Madrid (literature section)
  • 2010 - Premio Internacional de la Fundación Cristóbal Gabarrón de las Letras, in recognition of his life’s work
  • 2008 - Premio Cervantes
  • 2008 - Premio Carlemany Internacional de Literatura (Andorra)
  • 2001 - Premio Nacional de Narrativa for Rabos de lagartija
  • 2000 - Premio Nacional de la Crítica for Rabos de lagartija
  • 1998 - Premio Internacional Unión Latina
  • 1997 - Premio Juan Rulfo
  • 1994 - Aristeion Prize (European Literary Prize) for El embrujo de Shanghai
  • 1994 - Premio de la Crítica for El embrujo de Shanghai
  • 1990 - Premio Ateneo de Sevilla for El amante bilingüe
  • 1985 - Premio Ciudad de Barcelona for the novel Ronda del Guinardó
  • 1978 - Premio Planeta 1978 for La muchacha de las bragas de oro
  • 1973 - Premio Internacional México for Si te dicen que caí que caí
  • 1965 - Premio "Biblioteca Breve for the novel Últimas tardes con Teresa