Jenn Díaz, an author to reckon with

Jenn Díaz (Barcelona, 1988) is a contemporary Spanish writer who gets a lot of good press. A recent interview in the Spanish Esquire magazine had this introduction:

“Everybody’s talking about Jenn Díaz in the Iberian literary circles. Of her and her four published novels at the age of only 26, a rara avis in a country in which they say there are no readers. But up to here, all normal. If we live in a throwaway world, also altars are easily disposable and recyclable. The anomaly reveals itself when one gets to know a little better the writer from Barcelona and her work. No neo-crime novels, nor porno hypes, nor absurd aspirations to resurrect (and decaffeinate) the gauche divine. Díaz writes as her elders; she doesn’t want to be neither Palahniuk nor Hornby, she looks up and only has eyes for Martín Gaite, for Matute, for Ginzbourg. The secret of her success, as that of all successes, is arcane. What makes her a candidate to endure, a long-distance runner instead of a sprinter, is precisely the timelessness of her creations.”

Belfondo (2011), El duelo y la fiesta [The duel and the feast](2012), Mujer sin hijo [Childless woman](2013) and the recently published Es un decir [As the saying goes](2014).

Of her latest novel, Es un decir, the publisher Lumen (Penguin Random House) offers this summary:

“A girl wants to grow up after the assassination of her father in a village during the post-[Spanish Civil] War years, beside an absent mother and a grandmother who hides secrets.

‘On my eleventh birthday they killed my father…

the word murdered fixed itself in my head

in the same way that these stupid flies that enter your house

and don’t know how to get out’

Mariela is about to blow the candles of a cake when suddenly she hears a gunshot. And afterwards there only remain her mother’s silence, her grandmother’s vague commentaries and the questions of this stubborn girl who insists to find out who killed her father and why, while the village is still haunted by the Civil War’s memory. Mariela, this young miss of a scraggy life, this half-made woman, enters adult life looking sideways, listening to what is said behind doors, licking river stones as if they were candy; and with her we slowly discover the hollows of life and the fatigue of having birthdays in a world where everything is as the saying goes because the truth hurts. Jenn Díaz offers us a history full of strength and irony, that immediately finds the reader’s complicity: her words reach us as if we listened to hear instead of reading, and she shows us the talent of a woman that will offer a lot to talk about.”

The rural life she describes is not totally invented as the used to spend her vacations with her grandparents in Puebla de la Calzada (Badajoz, Extremadura).


Apart from writing novels, Díaz keeps a remarkable blog -Fragmento de Interior [Interior’s fragment]- with lots of photos and author quotes, and she contributes to Jot Down magazine with articles on literature and other topics. She also contributes to  El blog de mujeres [The women’s blog] of El País, the latest article is here.

Sources: Esquire April 8, 2014, Me gusta leer (Lumen)


One thought on “Jenn Díaz, an author to reckon with

  1. Pingback: Snippet: Jenn Díaz’ “Mother and daughter” | literary rambles

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