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Famed Spanish Novelist Javier Marías Dies at 70

Spain-based publisher Alfaguara has confirmed the death of internationally renowned Spanish novelist Javier Marías. He was 70 years old and passed away at a hospital in Madrid Sunday due to complications from pneumonia. 

Javier Marías was a global literary force known for being a master at his craft. His fame rests on his 15 published novels, which have sold more than 9 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 46 languages. Marías’ style became notable for the lengthy descriptions that seemed to stretch the limits of Spanish syntax and time itself; some sentences could reach hundreds of words. However, his lengthy prose is fitting for his subject matter–his body of work is layered with fictitious mystery, betrayals, spy dramas, family secrets, and the burdensome weight of the past upon the present. The novelist’s characters were morally complex amalgamations of their memories and desires in a way that made them feel alive. Another major theme Marías focused on was the “limits and marvels of translation and cross-cultural understanding,” as he himself worked as a translator. 

Described as an Anglophile, Javier Marías was an avid consumer of English and American media. Many of his novels’ settings take place in or around England, and the cross-cultural nature of his work was heavily defined by his experiences in the English-speaking world; as a child, he lived for years in the United States. The late postmodern crime writer Manuel Vásquez Montalbán teased Marías in a 1996 novel for being “the best English novelist writing in the Spanish language”. 

Some of Marías’ novels include When I was Mortal (1996), Todas las almas (1998), The Infatuations (2011), and A Heart so White (1992), which won the IMPAC International Dublin Literary Award in 1997. But his most famous work to date is the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, the first of which was released in 2002. The part romance, part spy thriller series captivated Spanish audiences and catapulted Javier Marías to the level of fame that had preceded him before his death.

“Life is a very bad novelist. It is chaotic and ludicrous.”

— Javier Marías


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