Almudena Grandes: from Madrid, from Galicia, from the left and from Atleti

And a successful writer, and a friend of her friends. Almudena Grandes, also great physically, was many things; he had an overflowing multi-faceted personality. Graduated in Geography and History, she always maintained an interest in the discipline, although her early success as a novelist allowed her to dedicate herself to what she always wanted to be, becoming one of the most successful authors of these years.

Luciano G. Egido, who shared an editorial with her (Tusquets), said with grace and who knows if something evil, that he felt “the pimp of Almudena Grandes” because the profits that the writer provided to the editors of both allowed them to These publish him, more minority (minority and majority are mere quantitative concepts that have nothing to do with quality; let’s remember Les Luthiers: “At first we were more minority in what we did? Yes, but then the people to see us and we stopped being ”).

Almudena Grandes was majority without sacrificing quality (The frozen heart is one of the great novels of the last decades) from the first moment. Since he burst onto the literary scene, winning the La Sonrisa Vertical award with The ages of Lulu. His following titles –I’ll call you friday, Malena is a tango name, Atlas of Human Geography, Rough Winds… – they consolidated her as an essential name, while she became a figure known for her journalistic collaborations (a genre in which she has remained until the end) and was adapted to the cinema by authors such as Bigas Luna (The ages of Lulu) or Gerardo Herrero (Malena is a tango name).

Almudena Grandes was the majority without sacrificing quality from the first moment

But his most characteristic work as a novelist was yet to come. The magnificent The frozen heart opened the door to the cycle that Almudena Grandes, a confessed Galdosian, called Episodes of an endless war: Agnes and joy, The Jules Verne Reader, Manolita’s three weddings, Dr. García’s patients… Before, she had married the writer Luis Garcia Montero (“How badly you saw and what I like”, it is said that he said in the very early stages of their relationship) and the film adaptations of his novels were repeated: Rough Winds, again by Gerardo Herrero and Atlas of Human Geography by Azucena Rodríguez.

Almudena Grandes was already, before the beginning of this century, a popular figure, who gave his opinion of the present without biting your tongue and from an unequivocal perspective of the left, of a left beyond the PSOE. He could quote Lenin without flinching in an interview, but he could at the same time acknowledge that the republican bourgeoisie was the best this country has given. Her ideas and the self-confidence to express them led her to more than one controversy. A joke of his, certainly of doubtful taste, on behalf of nuns and militiamen provoked an exchange of darts with Muñoz Molina, more politically tempered.

Madrilenian by origin and Almudena by name, she was condemned to show off her Madrilenianism. And it was, of course, from the team that carries the city on its shield. Being from Atleti, he said with good reason, is a matter of feeling, and in the face of feeling, neither power nor money nor all the European cups tell nothing. When between the double of 96 and the decline a few years later, the clouds loomed over the club, he was concerned about how to tell his son that Atleti (here, Sabina’s music) “had dropped to Second”. His friend Joaquín Sabina, who unknowingly wrote the soundtrack of the aforementioned The frozen heart: “The nationals had already passed…”.

For ideas or for university training, it was a great fond of the study of war Civil, a subject – he said, also here with reason – that hooks and leads to read more and more about it. She did it and, in addition to what was reflected in her novels, she even participated in the presentation of some work by an important historian. There were drops, or more than drops, of Jacobin blood in his veins. But his work flowed from a spring that did not exclude the sentimental.

On The frozen heart (Excuse the reiteration, it is a really good novel) a scene is repeated with different characters that puts a lump in the reader’s throat: an exile returns to Madrid after Franco’s death; he looks at the Castellana from the taxi or the city from the plane, and the person who accompanies him without saying a word takes his hand.

Human sensitivity and solidarity with the losers were two sides of the same coin in the personality of Almudena Grandes. In one of his innumerable articles, in recent years, when evictions were the daily bread, he showed it clearly. It told the story of a young woman who arrived in Madrid in the middle of the post-war period, one of those immigrants who clandestinely raised their own shacks at night (see The pickaxe, by Antonio Ferres), a hardened woman like that generation that spent the Franco regime in its entirety.

Human sensitivity and solidarity with the losers were two sides of the same coin in the personality of Almudena Grandes

Many years later, the older woman participates in a rally that tries to stop an eviction. A young man in the group, who may be her grandson, tells her to be careful, madam, in the face of the next police charge. And she smiles to herself, thinking that the kid doesn’t know who he’s talking to.

Committed, successful author, popular, loved by her readers and Atleti, Almudena Grandes was surely a happy woman. Because he also had a group of faithful friends with whom he shared meals, evenings and summers in the south. Once, one of these friends (Joaquín Sabina, again) called her to come to his house one afternoon when Gabriel García Márquez was going there. She said that it was an unforgettable afternoon with the least deified Nobel Prize that one could imagine.

These friends may not find any other consolation today for the loss of Almudena than that which a poet said more than five hundred years ago: “His memory leaves us very consolation.” As for your readers, they will wait in vain for a new title from you. They will have that important work, which also remains in the history of contemporary Spanish literature.

Almudena Grandes He was born on May 7, 1960 in Madrid, the city in which he died on November 27, 2021 at the age of 61. Since 1994 she was married to the poet Luis García Montero.

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Almudena Grandes: from Madrid, from Galicia, from the left and from Atleti