MADRID – Books by Spanish author Javier Marías have been translated into 46 languages and published in 59 countries. Marías said that he was particularly surprised by the success of his books, which have also been translated into English, Dutch, French and Italian.
The writer died on Sunday at the age of 70 due to complications from pneumonia. “The best candidate for the Nobel Prize in Spain today,” wrote famous journalist Rosa Montero after learning that Marías had passed away.
Totalmente noqueada con la muerte de Javier Marias. Le conozco y le he tratado desde hace 50 años. Nunca fuimos muy amigos pero era como si fuera de la familia. Nacimos el mismo año. Para mí era el mejor candidato para el Nobel en la España actual. Qué tremendo 💜
— Rosa Montero (@BrunaHusky) September 11, 2022
Journalist and writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte was more forceful: “That Javier Marías died without the Nobel Prize takes a lot of prestige away from the Nobel Prize.”
Que Javier Marías haya muerto sin el premio Nobel le quita mucha categoría al premio Nobel. pic.twitter.com/fjfkAlHN4o
— Arturo Pérez-Reverte (@perezreverte) September 11, 2022
The recognition has always been both from the public, with sales of over eight million copies worldwide; as the reviewers. Javier Marías was awarded the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Rómulo Gallegos for ‘Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me’ (1995), for which he also received the Fastenrath Prize, and the Prix Femina Étranger.
His awards include the Nelly Sachs Prize (1997, Dortmund, Germany), the Austrian Prize for European Literature (2011), the Terenci Moix Prize (2012) and the New York Public Library’s Library Lion. Marías thus became the first Spanish writer to receive this award.
In Spain he rejected the Premio Nacional de Narrativa. “I don’t think the state should give me anything for my job as a writer,” he argued. And added that he was hoping no one would take it as an insult. He did not want to be associated with any political party or power.
‘A Heart so White’, a ‘masterpiece’
“If they consider me, I’m happy, I appreciate it, but if they don’t, I don’t care,” he said in one of his last interviews.
The first time international critics noticed Marías’s work clearly was in Germany in 1996. That was during the most important literary program on television. Here, the influential Marcel Reich-Ranicki declared that Javier Marías was “one of the greatest living writers in the world”. Furthermore, he defined the novel ‘Corazón tan blanco’ (A Heart so White) as a “masterpiece”. From there, the international relevance of his work only continued to grow.
As the son of the philosopher Julián Marías, and a member of a family of intellectuals and artists, Marías spent part of his childhood in the US, where his father had been exiled during the Francoist regime until he was able to return to Spain.
Marías graduated in Philosophy and Literature at the Complutense University of Madrid. Thereafter, he was Professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Oxford and Wellesley College in the USA (Massachusetts).
“The best writer of recent decades in Spain”
Barcelona-born writer Eduardo Mendoza described Marías as “the best writer of recent decades in Spain”. “I have always been a defender of his work, from the beginning. I think he is the best writer of recent decades in Spain. With international recognition that places him among the greatest,” he underlined. The Real Academia Española has emphasized that he was one of the greatest novelists of the Spanish language.