Amat, Núria 1950–
Amat, Núria 1950–
PERSONAL: Born 1950 (one source cites 1951), in Barcelona, Spain. Education: Degree in Spanish studies; Ph.D. (information science).
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, City Lights Books, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133.
CAREER: University School of Library Science and Documentation of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, professor.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Novel of the Year, City of Barcelona, 2002, for Reina de América.
Pan de boda (novel), LaSal (Barcelona, Spain), 1979.
La biblioteca: tratado general sobre su organización, técnicas y utilizaciín, Di'fora (Barcelona, Spain), 1982.
Narciso y armonia (novel), Puntual (Madrid, Spain), 1982.
El ladrón de libros y otras bibliomanías, Muchnik (Barcelona, Spain), 1988.
La biblioteca electrónica, Fundacion G. Sanchez Ruipérez (Madrid, Spain), 1990.
Amor breve (novel), Muchnik (Barcelona, Spain), 1990.
Monstruos (novel), Anaya & M. Muchnik (Madrid, Spain), 1991.
Todos somos Kafka, Anaya & M. Muchnik (Madrid, Spain), 1993.
El libro mudo: las aventuras del escritor entre la pluma y el ordenador, Anaya & M. Muchnik (Madrid, Spain), 1994.
Viajar es muy difícil: manual de ruta para lectores periféricos, Anaya & M. Muchnik (Madrid, Spain), 1995.
La intimidad, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1997.
Letra herida (novel), Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1998.
El país del alma (novel), Editorial Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1999.
El siglo de las mujeres, Ediciones del Bronce (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.
Reina de América (novel), Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 2002, translation by Peter Bush published as Queen Cocaine, City Lights Books (San Francisco, CA), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Well known in the Spanish-speaking world for her short stories, novels, and literary essays, Núria Amat is best known in the United States for Queen Cocaine, originally published as Reina de América and winner of Barcelona's prize for best novel of the year.
The very name of the narrator, Rat, a displaced Catalan woman living in Columbia, signifies the bleak thread running through Amat's novel. Having moved to a small poverty-stricken village with her lover, a pensive journalist named Wilson Cervantes who has gone into hiding, Rat soon discovers that the lives of her neighbors have been blighted one way or another by "Queen Cocaine." In addition, the village is trapped in the dreary and seemingly endless struggle between Marxist guerrillas and U.S.-sponsored, right-wing militias. As Booklist reviewer Brendan Driscoll noted, Queen Cocaine "is no drug novel, and not wholly war journalism." Instead it is something of an adventure story, as Rat and the other villagers struggle to hold onto their land in the face of constant dangers. Along the way, Amat introduces a number of strange characters, such as a child-abuse survivor who has turned to animism and converses with the skull of a dead friend. She also witnesses strange events, such as the frenzied dancing by intoxicated young women—including university students seeking tuition money—which pulverizes coca leaves as part of the process of cocaine production. For Library Journal reviewer Jack Shreve, Queen Cocaine presents a "brilliant portrayal of the horrors of drug cultivation," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor found it "a revelatory tale that reads like the testimony of a shell-shocked survivor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Brendan Driscoll, review of Queen Cocaine, p. 1140.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004, review of Queen Cocaine, p. 1151.
Library Journal March 1, 2005, Jack Shreve, review of Queen Cocaine, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly, February 14, 2005, review of Queen Cocaine, p. 53.
School Library Journal, August, 2002, Tatiana de la Tierra, review of Reina de América, p. S33.
Barcelona Review Online, http://www.barcelonareview.com/ (August 15, 2005), Ana Alcaina, interview with Núria Amat.
Cultura Catalana, http://www.llull.com/llull/ (August 15, 2005), profile of Núria Amat, in spanish.
PEN American Center, http://www.pen.org/ (August 15, 2005), profile of Núria Amat.