Pedro Sánchez’s tribute to writer Almudena Grandes

by Deborah Cater
Almudena Grandes - tribute by Pedro Sanchez. Image_ RAE via Flickr under creative commons license

In EL PAIS, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez devoted beautiful words to the Spanish writer Almudena Grandes, who died last week. She described herself as a republican, leftist and anti-church and felt responsible for telling the history of Spain.

Sánchez praised her joy, commitment and the important role she played in passing on the history of Spain. 

Tribute to Almudena Grandes 

“With the rigour of a historian and the freedom of a creator, she wrote about who we were to tell us who we are today.  

We have lost one of our best writers far too soon: Almudena Grandes. Her role was fundamental not only for Spanish literature, but also for understanding our country and dealing with our most complex scar.

Dedicated to history

She was a tenacious and very courageous storyteller, an insatiable reader and a committed citizen, dedicated to history. She was determined not to forget either the fallen or the participants in the Spanish Resistance and all those who have been defeated by history. Almudena wrote, with the rigour of a historian and the freedom of a creator, about who we were in order to make us realise who we are now. A titanic literary effort entitled Episodios de una guerra interminable (Episodes of an Infinite War) to remind us that memory is not only about the past, but also about our present and, indeed, our future. The literature of Almudena Grandes has made the memory of Spain more worthy. 

Dedicated to the left

From ideals with which she confronted the world and from which she always looked with a critical, valuable and combative eye. With her often uncomfortable gaze – which penetrated our daily lives – she was always in search of justice and brought to light the unreal and the useless. Dedicated, above all, to life. And with joy. 

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 Because Almudena made literature more than a profession, more than a passion, more than an obligation. She wrote her books from the kitchen, she wrote by the sunsets of Rota, she wrote from the heart of her city, Madrid. She wrote through newspaper archives, history books, describing our country through the hearts of those who disappeared, through their invisible and unique lives. She wrote through the eyes of different generations of women. She deciphered the defeats of our living and our dead. She wrote with joy and beauty, she sketched a war, a post-war time, a wounded and rebuilt country. 

An unforgettable voice

A voice that we will never forget – a voice that came through in her columns on Spanish TV station Cadena Ser in the morning – that portrayed the people on the streets. The real people, the women and men who live in our country. She portrayed us all, in her determination to make the everyday the great battle of life. Almudena Grandes will be missed in Spain. We will all miss her on the pages of this newspaper, in Escalera interior and in her columns on Mondays. And, of course, the readers of her novels will miss her. 

 But her books live on in every bookstore and in our homes. Our daughters and sons and the next generations will know the history of the vanquished, the small stories that took place on the margins, the big questions about the still anonymous names defeated by an inexorable history. 

Readers were her freedom

Almudena wrote in one of her last columns that we readers were her freedom. And that writing was her life. We are lucky that her words will continue to speak to us. Just as Galdós, whom she admired, continues to tell us about Spain. Just as we, like her, keep returning to the Odyssey* to find our way. And we will have to learn to remember her, as poet Luis García Montero described in his book that he named after her: Almudena.”

 *Editor’s note: ‘The Odyssey, the book my grandfather gave me when I made my first communion. That is the most important book I ever read in my life, because it was the first book I read in the first person plural, as if I was living the same as Odysseus,’ Almudena Grandes wrote on Twitter in 2019. 

 Tip: Read Spanish writer Almudena Grandes dies at the age of 61 

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