Maria Barbal (Tremp, 1949) is a novelist and secondary-school teacher. She spent her childhood in the mountainous region of Pallars, which marked her early narrative work and helped her to see the world in another way, thanks to the love for her birthplace conveyed to her by her father. In 1964 she moved to live in Barcelona where she studied Hispanic Philology at the University of Barcelona.
Her early books offer her view, one that is not uncritical, of this rural universe, as reflected in her Pedra de Tartera (Mountain Scree – 1985), the story of an uprooting, which received the Joaquim Ruyra prize along with considerable public acclaim. Still writing about her childhood world, she then published the collections of stories La mort de Teresa (The death of Teresa – 1986) and Ulleres de sol (Sunglasses – 1994) and also the novels Mel i metzines (Honey and Poisons – 1990) and Càmfora (Camphor – 1992). She has been awarded the Critics’ Prize, the National Prize for Literature and the Serra d’Or Prize for these works, which confirms that her narrative work has maintained its early reputation as being among the clearest and most intense writing of her generation.
Eventually, however, she stopped writing about rural matters to situate her stories in more urban contexts. Notable among these latter works are the novels Carrer Bolívia (Bolivia Street – 1999), on the coming of immigrants to Catalonia, and Bella edat (Beautiful Age – 2003), which is concerned with beauty and the passing of time.
Maria Barbal has also written books for young people as well as a play, L’helicòpter (The Helicopter – 2000). She combines her writing and teaching and, in 2001, was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi (Saint George Cross) for her work.
She is a member of AELC (Association of Catalan Language Writers).
Web page: Xulio Ricardo Trigo.
Photographs: © AELC/Carme Esteve.
Translation: Julie Wark.