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The Dead Writer

The Dead Writer

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The Dead Writer

181 página
3 horas
Jan 30, 2021


Anna is a middle-aged writer who has bought up her daughter alone. In the present Berta is grown up, and the desire to meet her father, who she has only ever seen in a photograph, increases as her relationship with her boyfriend reaches crisis point. Hans works in a factory and has a sister, Clara, a misunderstood girl who is infatuated with this guy who rides a motorbike.

But, above all, this is the story of Anna Flieder, who decides to write a more biographic-style novel and her inspiration takes the form of the man who abandoned her all those years ago.

"The story shows the process of creation of a literary work (...) It’s a novel aimed at those who like to read, those who let themselves be absorbed into the reading because it requires a lot of imagination and there are lots of things which are just hinted at." -La Mañana

"This book tells the story of Anna, a writer, and the world and lives of the people around her. Anna lives her literary life as her real one, suffering from a kind of schizophrenia as the characters in her books collide with her life in their desire to see the light. The original was published in Spain in 2008." -Debbie Garrick, Translator

"The Dead Writer is, in essence, an invitation to all those who enjoy the way that literature reflects itself within a literary work. But it also represents the opportunity to follow other characters with feelings in situations that inevitably provoke recognition. [...] A delightful literary text which stands out with metaphorical language and suggests images that are capable of depicting daily scenes containing a multitude of possibilities that often, life does not let us see." -Dr Alexandra Santos Pinheiro, Resonancias Literarias, no. 153

"The Dead Writer, a novel which not only demonstrates the author's skill but also how we see her handling of the essential tool of all writers, language. [...] This novel is also an insightful literary artefact which is sure to satisfy the diverse enjoyment of the modern reader." -Letralia

"The author Núria Añó masterfully weaves a tale that delves deep into an exploration of the modern individual." -Noury Bakrim, Translator

Jan 30, 2021

Sobre el autor

Núria Añó (Lleida, 1973) is a Catalan/Spanish writer, a translator and a regular speaker at conferences and symposia, where she gives papers on literary creation, films, cities or authors like Elfriede Jelinek, Patricia Highsmith, Salka Viertel, Karen Blixen, Alexandre Dumas or Franz Werfel at University of Lleida (UdL), Tunis University, University of Jaén (UJA), International University of Andalucía (UNIA), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC-Madrid), Sysmän Kirjasto Library in Finland, Shanghai Writers' Association (SWA), Fudan University in China, East China Normal University, Sinan Mansion, Instituto Cervantes in Shanghai, Conrad Festival in Poland, Massolit Books, Baza or Instituto Cervantes in Krakow, also in libraries, secondary schools or in higher education. She also acts as a juror for international competitions.Her first story was published in 1990. Other short stories and essays were published in anthologies such as Dones i literatura a Lleida (1997); VIII Concurs de Narrativa Literària Mercè Rodoreda (1997); Estrenes (2005); Escata de drac (2012); Des lettres et des femmes... La femme face aux défis de l'histoire (2013); Fábula (2013); Grief (2014); Resonancias (2014); Les romancières sentimentales: nouvelles approches, nouvelles perspectives (2014); Letralia, Year XXI (2016); Cien años del Genocidio Armenio: Un siglo de silencio (2016); Revista Narrativas, no. 43 (2016); L'art de l'adaptation: féminité et roman populaire (University of Lleida, 2016); April Issue, Nebula (2017); Cine y Literatura. 21 años de Letralia (2017); The Mother Tongue in a Foreign Land (Shanghai Writers' Association, 2017); Domuzime, no. 4 (2017); Revista Literaria Visor, no. 12 (2018); Exilios y otros desarraigos (Editorial Letralia, 2018); China Life magazine, no. 151 (2018); Shanghai Get-Together (2018); Mémoires et écrits de femmes: La création féminine revisitée (2019) and in Agapè. De l'amour dans le patrimoine littéraire (2019) and in Diccionari literari (2019).Her novel" Els nens de l'Elisa" was third among the finalists for the 24th Ramon Llull Prize for Catalan Literature and was published in 2006. "L'escriptora morta" [The Dead Writer, 2020], in 2008; "Núvols baixos" [Lowering Clouds, 2020], in 2009, and "La mirada del fill", in 2012. Her most recent work "El salón de los artistas exiliados en California" [The Salon of Exiled Artists in California, 2020] is a biography of screenwriter Salka Viertel, a Jewish salonnière and well-known in Hollywood in the thirties as a specialist on Greta Garbo scripts.Some of her novels, short stories and articles are translated into Spanish, French, English, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese, Latvian, Portuguese, Dutch and Greek.Her writing focus on the characters' psychology, generally antiheroes. The characters are the most important in her books, much more than the topic, due to "an introspection, a reflection, not sentimental, but feminine". Her novels cover a multitude of topics, treat actual and socially relevant problems such as injustices or poor communication between people and frequently, the core of her stories remains unexplained. Añó asks the reader to discover the "deeper meaning" and to become involved in the events presented.Literary Prizes/ Awards:2020. Awarded at International Writing Program in China.2019. Awarded at International Writer's and Translators' House in Latvia.2018. Fourth prize of the 5th Shanghai Get-together Writing Contest.2018. Selected for a literary residence in Krakow UNESCO City of Literature, Poland.2017. Awarded at the International Writers' and Translators' Center of Rhodes in Greece.2017. Awarded at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Sweden.2016. Awarded at the Shanghai Writing Program, hosted by the Shanghai Writer's Association.2016. Awarded by the Culture Association Nuoren Voiman Liitto to be a resident at Villa Sarkia in Finland.2004. Third among the finalists for the 24th Ramon Llull Prize for Catalan Literature.1997. Finalist for the 8th Mercè Rodoreda Prize for Catalan Short Stories.1996. Awarded the 18th City of Almenara Joan Fuster Prize for Fiction.

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The Dead Writer - Núria Añó

The Dead Writer

Núria Añó

Translated by Debbie Garrick

The Dead Writer

Written By Núria Añó

Copyright © 2020 Núria Añó

Original title L'escriptora morta © 2008


All rights reserved

Distributed by Babelcube, Inc.


Translated by Debbie Garrick

Cover Design © 2020 Núria Añó. Photo by Ángel Hernández. Drawing by Gordon Johnson

Babelcube Books and Babelcube are trademarks of Babelcube Inc.

Table of Contents

Title Page


The Dead Writer

About the author

Also by Núria Añó

The Salon of Exiled Artists in California

Lowering Clouds

About the translator

The Dead Writer

Núria Añó

Hans leaves home at half past four. He wears the newest pair of jeans he could find in his wardrobe and a suede jacket that he’s still doing up. The young man’s head hangs lower than it should as he thrust his hands into his pockets and heads towards the houses. His shadow is seen from one of the windows. In that instant Anna stands and heads towards the front door. Hans doesn’t even have chance to ring the bell; the woman was faster. She invites him in to sit in the most comfortable armchair and makes sure to entertain him. She tells him Berta’s drying her hair. She says this while serving him a drink, from the bottle she kept just for him. After all, they would soon be mother and son-in-law, although Hans hadn’t quite made up his mind as yet. He’d like to wait until he owns his own car at least, but everything is more expensive than he thought. Berta hasn’t completely made up her mind either. Should she wear a long or short skirt? With a jumper or blouse? The mother-in-law, this woman so like Berta, except she’s twenty-six years older and pays attention to Hans. Thanks, Anna, he says. One of those phrases used to be polite and caring, although clearly essential. Berta might decide to go out with someone else. Then the attention would go, along with the drinks, the manners and this scene where he waits for her. An interminable wait that he accepts as part of this thing they call love. If someone could capture what it is that Berta has, then they would understand why Hans goes through this time and again. Maybe he doesn’t know any better, that’s why he comes back here instead of going elsewhere. They’re good to him here. They treat him just like they do at home. Mind you, that doesn’t mean they’re that good to him at home. Anna offers him a tray of biscuits. Another little detail she buys for this young man, giving the impression that she could be the woman that ends up with Hans. Especially in moments like the one that follows, when she watches him closely, her eyes outlined with liquid eyeliner. It really might happen, if, rather than living in a village like this, they lived in the anonymity of the city.

Everything in this place seems to be enclosed within mountains, farms and the gossip that travels from street to street. The main festival in May. Market day on Monday. Though every morning they walk by with rope-soled sandals and baskets under their arms. Sometimes they buy nothing. They move the clothes around on a stall, as if they were looking for something they can’t find and it all seems to cost more than they’re willing to pay for clothing like this. They’ll find some defect or fabric imperfection that they’ll show to the seller with an exclamation, driving down the price of the item. Mind you, there’s always someone who buys without complaining. Wavy brown hair, writer’s hands or the hands of someone whose profession has little to do with the countryside and pays with large notes. People arrive from all over, camouflaging themselves in one of these empty houses of which there are many. One is about to be renovated. Another will need to be completely rebuilt. Perhaps Miss whoever would prefer to visit the show house in town, you can’t beat the location. Señora Anna Flieder, here we’ve had the honour of housing a poet who has written about our landscape and these mountains as if they were an extension of the earth, bringing our people closer to God. It is said that when our people die, they make both the shortest and yet longest journey the same time, the most passionate journey of their lives. Unfortunately, her works were not very extensive. You can hear the crunching of dry leaves, a large quantity of leaves that the seller and Anna had been treading on for a long time, throughout this journey. And here, as you can see, is one of the newest housing developments that our agency has on the books. Top quality finishes. Mind your step. Here is the dining room with two different looks. Two medium sized rooms. A bathroom with a shower and oak doors. What do you think? The window frames are stainless steel with double glass. Soundproof walls. We’re working with excellent quality materials these days. Personally, I can picture you writing on this side of the window where you can see the sun setting over the mountains. Or here, in this cosy alcove where you can watch the street and your neighbours. What do you say? Wait, the best is yet to come, a spacious bedroom where you and your husband can, well, er, you know…

Anna was in a hurry, a real hurry. Something she hadn’t passed on to Berta. Perhaps her daughter was more indecisive because of her father’s side. What would Anna know? She hardly knew him. And she doesn’t know Hans yet either. She knows he likes hunting, and Berta, oat liquor and the biscuits Anna buys. However, this young man who’s in her home doesn’t say very much. Anna turns on the television and after a while says, Wow look how fast that leopard runs! Hans replies, Leopards are the fastest of all.

Berta appears, she crosses the lounge as if drawn by a magnet and sits on Hans’ lap. She gives him a hello kiss and then inspects his shirt, which is the same one as last week. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. Now she was hugging him and she wasn’t thinking about that, but about getting out of here. Hans holds out a hand towards the table and Anna passes him the remote. No, that’s not what he wanted. Anna holds out his glass. No, not that either. The only thing that Hans wants to do is grab his bag and show off the two cinema tickets. As for Berta, she stands up and fetches her coat. Hans drinks his last gulp and does up his jacket.

The usher opens the curtain and guides them both with his torch. Later they’ll go to one of those films that’s just a bit out of date, that’s life in these parts if you don’t have a car. What is more, this isn’t even the kind of film Berta likes, and now she’s started to cover one eye and looked to her left. She starts to ask Hans in a low voice, when he jumps in his seat. Ok, Berta can look at the screen again now.

A horror film. Nothing to do with Clara, who’s suffering from self-imposed punishment. Veins so eerie lit up by a desk lamp. Bluey-green bloody channels covered by fine skin. Skin that’s so fine you can open it easily with a small positive incision. But Clara isn’t feeling the same sense of urgency as she did few seconds ago when she held the scissors on the cutting edge getting ready to do it. Perhaps she needed to go back to that moment, when she called her beloved Paul, whose name she lived for day and night, and he apparently only had two words to say Clara, who’s Clara?

This is the kind of thing that fuels the anger in this fifteen-year-old girl, though the hand holding the scissors isn’t as angry as her. She lacks practice and determination. Plus, she might cut too hard and end up dying. Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul. If he doesn’t even remember her, what’s the point? That’s the thing. Whatever happens, she keeps applying eyeliner, brushing her teeth, using deodorant, changing her shirt and spending her time only in the cosier rooms of the house, where the natural light comes in and illuminates the corners closest to the window. As twilight ascends the day’s clarity disappears and Anna, glancing at something away from the town, fills a jug to water the plants.

Berta and Hans have just walked into the only nightclub in the area. If they could barely talk in the cinema, now even if they wanted they couldn’t understand each other. She says, Something with coke. Hans says to the waiter, No, no I said with coke! Shortly after he offers her the drink and asks, What are we doing Berta? And she, lit-up by a red light says, If you say so! A few friends come over, there’s a load of hellos, kisses and hugs and then the boys shake hands and move over to the bar. They chat about this and that, although the topic of hunting seems to be of most interest. It’s natural, from 1st October to 15th December. The girls now really want to dance. Berta follows them. The way they’re dancing anyone would think they’re looking for trouble. Later they queue for the toilets. One takes out a lipstick and starts to touch up her make-up and then, looking at herself in the mirror turns and asks the other two if they can see her bra. The other one looks to one side, then the other and quickly realises that she’s laddered her tights. Sooner or later Berta takes a look in the mirror, at first without really noticing that she and the reflection are one and the same. Berta makes a gesture of resignation in front of the mirror and it does exactly the same. She asks for a lipstick, miming with her hand. Hans wished someone could explain it to him, as he was once again propped at the bar raising his hand to call the waiter: why did it feel as if his girl spent more time with their friends than with him? Was it the drink? The music? Actually, Where is Berta? Has anyone seen Berta?

Clara, under the gloomy light of the streetlamp can’t make out Berta. She can barely see her own shadow. A shadow that she wears first behind and then as she advances it moves to the front. Ah now it’s changed again. She pays her entrance fee and goes straight to where she has to go. She stands in front of Hans and asks him for a vodka and lemonade as she thinks that her brother will get served more quickly. In the meantime, she casts a glance over the dance floor and reserved tables. Paul hadn’t come. Such a shame she’d just wasted money to find that out. Clara looks at her brother and although he seems to have his own light, when he gives her the drink there’s an eclipse. Hans needs that great sun in the shape of Berta. Berta still needs her mother. And Clara in that respect has no say here.

Can someone let Hans know that whilst he’s eating his second burger, he has a bit of onion stuck on his chin? Berta finds his hand under the table. It’s getting to the time when the three couples will have to share a single car. That’s what real friends are for after all. Friends without secrets who end up looking alike as they take off their clothes. Berta knows, that for all Hans eats, drinks, listens or talks, he will end up annoyed again, the way he does every Sunday: and Berta as she’s enjoying her hot coffee here in the bar should feel Hans grabbing her hand under the table. She looks at her friends, how they morph into pairs. It’s just so natural! She closes her eyes a little, enough to realise that she’d rather go home. It’s as if she’s opening a piano and playing a piece from memory at eleven o’clock at night, without having to look for the score, and without her mother saying, "You made me forget a sentence, don’t you know what happens if I lose my train of thought at a time like this? What about Hans? Didn’t Hans walk you home? But the young man is still here, looking at his watch and yawning. Berta’s fingers move nervously within his grasp, both apparently united in a silent melody.

An inherent part of Clara is that whatever she does, nobody pays her any attention. She can enter and leave the club. Go out again and enter once more. She could even show them the pale palms of her hands had been about to suffer an impact. A massive impact! But in spite of it all she’s ok. Because she didn’t hurt herself! Hey, don’t be scared, all this young girl wants is a little bit of attention. Clara’s the sort of person that, even if she lived in the city, she’s still be as unnoticed as she is now. The only difference would be, that instead of ignoring her in the street or at a traffic light they’d just give her a wide berth. On the way home, she rubs her hands all over, releasing the throbbing knots as she finds them. And that’s the last thing she sees before turning out the light in her bedroom: scratches on her hand, a room full of posters and a pile of clothes that need folding.

There’s another car heading off towards the mountain, they say he lives in the town and that he’s driving around with binoculars. When the car stops, Berta and Hans stay seated, staring at the seats in front. If they aren’t planning on doing anything they could at least give up their seats to the couple that had to get out. This Berta, she just doesn’t feel like it, she’s not up to the job. She’s fine where she is. Sitting with Hans at her side, Hans who’s trying to work out how he can get a hand under her jumper. No, she stops his hand. Outside, the arse of the other boy is pressed against the car door while the girl kneels in front of him. Hans says Berta, noticing the front seat reclining. We shouldn’t have come. Really? says Hans. Berta just doesn’t fancy it. It’s odd that her and her boyfriend are in a place they don’t deserve. Maybe it’s good karma for the two young people who gave up a good place and are now likely to be cold? Berta and Hans get out the opposite door.

She grabs Hans’ hand. But it doesn’t seem to be enough. One by one they leave the road and head towards the entrance of the house. Berta says goodbye with a kiss that means I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. But he is even more sorry, and he keeps on walking with his head hanging low. A little later Hans leaves his keys on the table in the hallway. And goes blindly to his room. Opens and closes the door. Goes in and then out of the bathroom. Sets the alarm clock for six am.

Its Monday, Market day! The market stalls are beginning to fill with produce. Hans can feel it first thing as he’s dressed in the company uniform. Later Berta, who’s waiting at the bus stop, decides to by one of those tops that she’ll never get to wear. Clara too, carrying her bag of books and pens, is waiting for the second bus to take her once again on that interminable journey that lasts for days, she looks at the tops which are still more expensive than what she’s wearing right now. At the same time, she concentrates on a razor blade. She asks the salesperson if it cuts. He questions her back, Does it cut? What use is a razor blade that doesn’t cut?! Of course, it all depends on what you need to cut. What is it that you want to cut, young lady? Clara says nothing. Her only method of transport has just arrived. Later Anna appears and asks why the antique book seller is missing again. She used to come!

Anna, looking at her side-on you could be looking at a marble or stone bust, painstakingly crafted by an artist from the village. Anna, that figure sitting on one of the town’s benches, leafing through her book of notes written in Biro.

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