Lleida, España, 1959

Imma Monsó took a degree in French studies at the University of Barcelona, later specialising in applied linguistics at the universities of Strasbourg and Caen. She worked as a secondary school teacher for some time, subsequently moving into foreign language teaching. Alongside her literary activity she began to collaborate with the newspaper El País, and later also made regular contributions to other printed press, including La Vanguardia, L’Avenç, El Periódico de Catalunya and Catalan Writing.

  • “Even the most conventional argument takes unpredictable turns in the hands of Monsó.” La Vanguardia
  • “Imma Monsó signe un roman plein de surprises. Dans ce quatrième roman traduit en français, à la frontière du conte fantastique, la talentueuse Catalane Imma Monsó tisse ses fils et fait monter la pression.” Livres Hebdo (on L'Aniversari)

Bibliography

The story of a special person, a woman who grows up in the silence of the Franco regime and opens herself up to the world in a mountain village where the wounds of the past still fester.

September 1962. A young teacher who is unsure of her vocation and struggles to communicate takes up her first post in a school in the Pyrenees. There, she fulfils her ambitions: to have a job and live in a village in a house from where she can watch the snow fall.

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Novel

The story of a special person, a woman who grows up in the silence of the Franco regime and opens herself up to the world in a mountain village where the wounds of the past still fester.

In September 1962, a young, uncertain teacher with limited verbal communication skills arrives at her first job in a school in the Pyrenees. She fulfills her desires: to have a town, a job and a house from where she can watch the snow fall. She leaves behind a childhood marked by the mysterious activities of her father and an atypical upbringing under a mother torn between the irresistible impulse to shield her daughter from the mantras of the Regime and the fear of excessively isolating her from the prevailing normality.

The candid Severina, unaware of the social mores of a rural community and the marks left by history on its inhabitants, will fit together the pieces that unite her with the collective past thanks to Justa's common sense and the support of a fascinating man with whom she will live a deliciously one-sided passion. She will also discover to her horror that despite her discretion and amiability the community will not leave her alone.

“Superlative.” La Lectura, El Mundo

 “A novel that, thanks to its thoroughness, concision, bitterness, eloquence and enormous readability, euphorically passes the litmus test of finding another way to recount how a family is connected to historical memory.” El País

“Severina is a well-honed character, as real as life itself, and charming too. She honours her creator.” Ignacio Vidal-Folch. Crónica Global, El Español

“Monsó's light and beautiful prose takes you where it wants to. [...] Severina could undoubtedly form part of the genealogy of strange girls, very like Carmen Laforet's Andrea. [...] It somewhat shakes up one’s expectations to come across such deep and lively characters in contemporary literature...” Carmen G. de la Cueva, CTXT

 "The story flows magnetically, thanks to the power of the character of Severina [...]. With this novel Monsó takes a step forward and reflects on the universal – and very topical – theme of war, exploring how it affects people, how some people decide to play a role in History while others want nothing to do with it." Valeria Gaillard, El Periódico

“Within a setting of incorruptible realism, Monsó's novels have a touch of the bizarre, with their out-of-the-ordinary figures, consciously developed as a form of resistance to the standardising sieve of modern life. [...] We always find psychological and narrative complexity in her books, and an eccentricity in the characters.” Julia Guillamón, Culturas, La Vanguardia

“Severina is a 100% Monsó character, in other words, very solemn, and careful with her words to the point of obsession.” Tina Vallès, Vilaweb

“A great work of remembrance and imagination, a celebration of the novel’s potential to help us understand the world.” Anagrama

“Without a doubt, Imma Monsó's great success in this painstaking, morose and delicate novel is her ability to go beyond the subject of the Civil War and the political cliché to create a character that moves and shakes us, without ignoring them.” El Correo

All happy families are alike, except at Christmas, when each of the in-laws makes them unhappy in their own way.

When each year draws to a close, Rita indulges herself in an inconfessable dream that she zealously nourishes but never dares to realise: to spend Christmas Eve alone in her Barcelona flat, in her pajamas, eating chips and reading by the radiator. However, every Christmas Eve, for more than fifty years, she has spent this time surrounded by her family in a house in the Aran Valley, where she prepares dinner for everyone – as early as November she even loses sleep over her careful planning – and blames herself for her inability to put her wishes before family tradition.

This time Rita has made the firm resolution that it will be her last Christmas Eve celebration and to keep to it she has this important announcement to make to her family. But she is not the only one with New Year's resolutions. Other family members, such as her happy and fortunate brother-in-law, have momentous changes to announce that will disrupt the family harmony and Rita's yearnings for emancipation.

Illustrated by Ignasi Font.

“A couple in crisis; two children playing in the forest. Two intimately related stories in which everyday terror is mixed with a perverse, delicious sense of humour for the reader’s fright and delight. Being able to edit an author of Imma Monsó’s calibre and literary quality is one of those luxuries of this wonderful profession of ours.Anna Soldevila, Editor at Destino

L’Aniversari cleverly features two converging stories: A couple is travelling in a car on their way to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They care about each other, but they are in crisis: the man, around fifty years old, methodical and prosaic, has prepared a surprise for her wife, an imaginative, slightly eccentrical woman, bored to be married with a predictable man. They end up in a forest clearing of sentimental significance to them. The surprise turns out to be spooky…  This storyline is disturbing and even sinister…. until the last word. In parallel. in alternate chapters, we follow Guillem and Mateu, two 10-year-old children, who are performing a big adventure in the woods, based on a novel they both know by heart: Moby Dick. A scary line too: one of them disappears. 

L’Aniversari is a clockwork, a fascinating page-turner written with skillful literary wisdom, and a tribute to the power of reading and imagination.

"Even the most conventional argument takes unpredictable turns in the hands of Monsó: the reader looks at a universe of people who think and reason, who debate and argue, and who knit the great tapestry that are always this author’s novels." La Vanguardia

“Un livre construit impeccablement, sur le pouvoir de l’imagination et son rôle d’électrochoc sur le réel.” F.F. Libération

“Imma Monsó signe un roman plein de surprises. Dans ce quatrième roman traduit en français, à la frontière du conte fantastique, la talentueuse Catalane Imma Monsó tisse ses fils et fait monter la pression.” Livres hebdo


Premio Ramon Llull 2012

Agnès Bach, a 48-year-old psychiatrist, is a hasty woman who cannot stop. Her schedule is painstakingly prepared to leave no room for downtime, crammed with her patients, her decadelong relationship with a married man, her meetings with friends, and the writing of a book about psychiatric cases. However, a family matter will force her to reconsider what things truly cannot be postponed. 

An original, caustic view of the tyranny of immediacy in the control of our lives.

Terminado el primer curso de Periodismo, Gus comienza unas prácticas en la sección de viajes de un periódico. Su jefe, la antipatía personificada, se dedica a hacerle encargos aburridísimos, mientras él sueña que le envían a hacer un reportaje a cualquiera de los lugares de ficción donde suele quedarse colgado con la imaginación: la Atlàntida, las Tierras de Gog y Magog, Jauja, Sildavia, Borduria, Terabithia, Magrathea... O Pausa da Longa, la isla de un viejo cuento infantil donde se dice que la gente vive feliz de verdad. Con la ayuda de Pol, su compañero de piso, y de la oportunidad de oro que le ofrece la estancia en el diario, Gus intentará investigar si es posible cruzar la frontera entre la realidad y la ficción y si es cierto todo lo que se dice de Pausa da Longa ...

Una escritora se dirige a ofrecer una charla literaria en un pueblo del Pirineo catalán, y en la carretera, en plena tormenta, se encuentra con una ambulancia que transporta a un joven que ha sufrido un accidente mortal en el bosque. Los únicos indicios para averiguar su identidad son un teléfono móvil y el último mensaje que dejó alguien que le esperaba en casa. La escritora descubre gracias al mensaje que el joven asistirá probablemente a la conferencia, sin saber que la tragedia se cierne sobre su futuro. El conocimiento del destino ajeno y la ignorancia sobre la identidad precisa del joven originarán en ella un complejo y angustiante embrollo en el que se entremezclan la responsabilidad, el respeto y la necesidad de saber. El tema principal de la conferencia, el miedo, propicia un acercamiento a la verdad oculta. Y a medida que los miembros del público intervienen y dejan entrever su personalidad, la escritora va desvelando quién es la persona cuya terrible suerte conoce. En el curso de la charla tomará una decisión al respecto...

An autobiographical novel that holds nothing back

A young writer faces the sudden death of the man with whom she has shared the happiest years of her life. In order to rebuild her life, she writes the chronicle of that love and of that death: the result is a story both brutal and tender, tragic and fun, told with passion and without sentimentalism. A genuine and unusual tale that will move its readers.

“But what I wanted was to live absolute love, a love that would be enough in and of itself, a complex, rich, difficult love, beyond which nothing more was needed. Because it would all be there. Everything in one basket: physics and chemistry, music and logic, descendants and transcendence. There would be no shrewd met-ing out of the wealth of my love, no way: I wanted to satisfy each one of my numerous and demanding appetites in the same person, and then everything would be for him. I wanted it all in one person, one single shelter, everything safe there. It had to be that way, or not at all.” 

“Imma Monsó has created a universal story based on the most personal of experiences.” Albert Sánchez Piñol

“I admire Imma Monsó's prose, above all for the irony that holds sway over her arguments and for her brilliant use of the possibilities of language.” Maria Barbal

Un hombre de palabra [A Man of His Word] it is neither a novel nor a memoir, though in its own way it is both and more: above all, it is an impassioned, lucid, fierce and hilarious declaration of absolute love to her dead husband and an impassioned, lucid, fierce and hilarious howl of pain for her dead husband, but also a form of grieving and a reflection on the way in which the dead live on in those who are still alive, and an exorcism that only comes to a close when the dead person has become the survivor's second skin, in “a memory that, when you look at it closely, is very similar to forgetting.”  Excerpt from an article by Javier Cercas, “When The Pendulum Stops,El País Semanal

Un hombre de palabra [A Man of His Word] is a moving, intelligent and tumultuous book. It's a candid and sincere text that helps understanding the complexities of grief.” Rosa Montero

"El relato del duelo, como reflexión sobre la muerte y los muertos (no es casual que Monsó se refiera al cuento de James Joyce, Los muertos) es de una delicadeza ejemplar, sin aspavientos liricoides, con esa sobriedad de las calladas elegías, no exenta de un humor extraordinariamente punzante y liberador." Ernesto Ayala-Dip, Babelia, El País

"Imma Monsó evita el abuso de sentimentalismo con clase y maestría gracias a las estrategias del humor y de la mirada fría con la que se enfrenta al relato de los absurdos que pautan la vida cotidiana tras la experiencia de la muerte." Ponç Puigdevall, El País Quadern ("Un triomf absolut")

"A medida que vamos leyendo, la pareja formada por Lot y el Cometa alcanza unos niveles de complicidad y comunión -silenciosa y lingüística-, que sólo encontramos en Maga y Horacio Oliveira, Jane Eyre y Edward Rochester, Glenda Berna y Poltern Mac." Vicenç Pagès, L'Avenç

"Todos los personajes de Imma Monsó son reales y, a la vez, literarios. De todos, quizás el Cometa es el más literario y real, pero esto es porque la autora ha simpatizado más con él y no ha tenido que convivir con resignación profesional sino con pasión existencial." Sergi Pàmies, "El malentès de les etiquetes"

Julia Ares has an overwhelming personality that includes a visceral rejection of hypocrisy and a mastery of verbal provocation. She also has two daughters, one of whom, the youngest, still lives with her. Between the two there is a play of affections and misunderstandings based on their supposed opposition of character. The daughter, the voice of this novel, has always considered herself the antithesis of her mother until, almost suddenly, she begins to recognise herself in her. With enormous acuity, the author achieves with her writing the rhythm of thought and shows all the psychological ambiguities of the relationship between a mother and her daughter. An agile and astute approach to the nooks and crannies of character.

Glenda, una psiquiatra que sufre una crisis vocacional, y Poltern Mac, un músico entregado a la enseñanza por vocación, dos personajes desorientados, aparentemente ajenos al mundo moderno, pero representativos de algunas de las contradicciones y sin sentidos del hombre contemporáneo, parecen destinados a encontrarse. En el intento desesperado de recuperar la pasión por su trabajo, Glenda se toma un año sabático y sale a la búsqueda del paciente que le redescubra el sentido de su profesión. Poltern, entretanto, comienza a sufrir los primeros síntomas de una extraña e insoportable fobia a las repeticiones, que parece no tener cura y que podría condenarle al aislamiento más absoluto. Afortunadamente, sus destinos confluyen en la granja de la excéntrica familia de Poltern. Juntos iniciarán una terapia nada convencional, en cierto modo tragicómica, que, si en principio pone en evidencia los trastornos de la normalidad impuesta, acaba descubriéndonos al fin una profunda historia de amor.

Terminados los estudios universitarios, Franz Hoozenberger, un joven alsaciano muy metódico, con una visión simétrica de las cosas, inicia unas plácidas vacaciones en la casa familiar con el fin de planificar para siempre su futuro. El azar pone en sus manos una vieja y misteriosa botella de Gewurtztraminer del 78, casi inencontrable, que lleva una etiqueta con un enigmático y, arriesgado mensaje: quien beba de ese vino obtendrá la facultad de intercambiar, de forma transitoria, la propia personalidad con alguien que comparta voluntariamente la experiencia. Se trata, pues, para Franz de encontrar a algún cómplice que quiera vivir la extraña experiencia, aun sabiendo que ninguno de los dos la recordará una vez terminados los efectos del delicioso vino. Y lo encuentra por fin en un personaje diametralmente opuesto a él. ¿Qué habrá pasado, quince años después, cuando Franz recapacite de pronto sobre lo que ha sido su vida, su matrimonio, desde aquel cruce de personalidades?

Short stories and novellas

La fascinante actividad de observar y ser observado es el hilo conductor de estas cinco narraciones. Por ellas desfilan personajes obsesionados o roídos por la envidia que se contraponen a otros amorales y despreocupados que son como un bálsamo que alivia la pesadez y la dureza de la vida. Personajes, en definitiva, que inspiran en el lector la imperiosa necesidad de vigilarlos muy de cerca.

Mejor que no me lo expliques es una colección de cuentos sobre la pareja, la felicidad, las relaciones familiares, la alegría, la enfermedad. Y sobre el valor de la comunicación oral, siempre falsa, siempre incompleta. ¿Cómo te sentirías si tu nombre no apareciera en una sola página del diario de tu pareja? Este libro nos recuerda que aunque compartamos sábanas y almohada, pocas veces sabremos lo que piensa nuestro amante...

Non-fiction

Imma Monsó se adentra en el mundo de los japoneses para captar aquellos gestos sutiles, aquellos detalles humanos que muestran los claros curos de dos culturas contrastadas. Niño de tres años juegan medio desnudos en el patio cubierto de nieve del parvulario Daini Hikari, una escuela de élite japonesa. En el interior, acurrucada en un catre, hay una niña a cuarenta de fiebre. Sin embargo, debe participar en la carrera del día siguiente. Llegará la última, muy por detrás de los otros, derrotada, y no sabemos si viva. ¿Quién puede imaginar una escena como ésta en nuestro país? Disciplina, refinamiento, discreción..., un abismo separa la cultura japonesa de la cultura occidental. Quizás por eso los miembros de esta comunidad en Cataluña se escapan de nuestras miradas. Y es que, si según los tópicos los catalanes se parecen a los japoneses en el amor al trabajo, lo cierto es que un montón de diferencias, y no de excentricidades, nos diferencian.

Books for children and young readers

Maria Camescames and Brutus Castanyer get bored at school and they are tired of having the same routines. One day they find out a very special school that is the opposite of a normal school, and they manage to convince their parents to attend this school. In Estrambota* School there is no homework, there are no rules, the students are neither careful nor clean and in the lunch menu only desserts are served. But one day there is a theft: a stranger steals the Estrambobook, a fantastic book that can grant wishes to those who know how to use it. The students will have to help the extravagant Miss Estrambota and distracted Mr Blink to get it back. The end of this adventure will give them a surprise and teach them. 

*Estrambota comes from the adjective estrambòtica that means extravagant or eccentric.

Prizes

  • 2012 - Premio Ramón Llull for the novel La dona veloç
  • 2008 - Premio Internazionale de Letteratura “Scrivere per amore” for Un home de paraula
  • 2007 - IV Premio de Narrativa Maria Àngels Anglada
  • 2007 - Premió Salambó (Catalan narrative)
  • 2007 - III Premio Internacional Terenci Moix (Literature)
  • 2007 - Premi Sirga d’Or
  • 2003 - Premi Ciutat de Barcelona for Millor que no m’ho expliquis
  • 2003 - Shortlisted for the Premi Llibreter for Millor que no m’ho expliquis
  • 2001 - Shortlisted for the Premi Llibreter for Tot un caràcter
  • 1999 - Premi Cavall Verd de la Crítica Catalana for Com unes vacances
  • 1998 - Premi Prudenci Bertrana for Com unes vacances
  • 1997 - Premio Tigre Juan for Nunca se sabe
  • 1996 - Premio Ribera d’Ebre for Si és no és