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because her grandmother saw Joséphine Baker dance

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When she was twelve years old, Almudena Grandes learned that her grandmother had seen her dance naked Josephine Baker. From that day on, he wondered about Spain, about a nation in which progress was never a continuous line and in which, in the same family, a grandmother could advance her daughter and granddaughter in modernity and ease. Perhaps because of the many women that ran through her veins, Almudena Grandes built herself as a writer determined to understand the world in which she lived and the one that preceded her.

Historian and novelist. Manichaean for some, galdosiana for others, Almudena Grandes knew how to tame words and the human archipelago that unfolds in every realistic novel.

She was a read writer, because she connected with the pulp of something greater than her: the past, the identities built in that past and that remained unresolved as a failure. That sandpaper voice of his that could cut the bars of a prison was present in his books. That was she, the author of the ungraspable affairs, the willful daughter of Galdós.

He insisted on undertaking that long project of ‘Episodes of an endless war‘, his fiction series on the Spanish postwar period in the 20th century and in which he housed a narrative consciousness of the present. It happened with ‘Los besos en el pan’, his novel alluding to the 2010 crisis. Grandes invested his literary career and his work in talking about a defeat long enough to bring grandparents and grandchildren closer to the long precipice of progress that did not finishes arriving.

Her mother asked her to study a girl’s degree. Something that would allow her to break through while making her a cultivated woman. So he chose History. But life, which plays its cards, made her choose and she opted for fiction. He traveled the same path a historian would have taken, but in the opposite direction. He did it with ‘Inés y la Alegría’, which was followed by ‘The Julio Verne reader’, ‘Manolita’s three weddings’,’ Doctor García’s patients’ and ‘Frankenstein’s mother‘.

Memory was the great theme of his generation, and his own. Perhaps because her grandmother saw Joséphine Baker dance naked. From that day on, Almudena Grandes wondered about Spain, a place bound in the past and from now on printed in her novels. Her untimely death, perhaps too early, orphans the readers who set her free. “I write what I want, because my readers support me.” So it was, in each and every one of his novels: free.

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