Riera, Carme 1948- (Carme Riera Guilera)

views updated

Riera, Carme 1948- (Carme Riera Guilera)


Born January 12, 1948, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Education: attended Institut Joan Alcover de Palma de Mallorca, Spain; University of Barcelona, Ph.D.


E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and professor of literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Academician, Real Acadèmia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona Royal Academy of Letters, Barcelona. Visiting professor at Gainesville College and Dartmouth College; has taught courses and given lectures and seminars at a number of universities in Europe and America. Visiting Joan Corominas Professor, University of Chicago, 2006. Has frequently appeared on television and radio shows, including Nueva narrativa española 2a parte, 1991, Alexandria, 2004, Bon dia, Catalunya, 2004, L'Entrevista, 2004, Millennium, 2004, L'Illa del tresor, 2006, Noms, 2006, De llibres, 2006, Saló de lectura, 2006, and Enigma Cervantes, 2006.


Francesc Puig i Llensa for Novel, 1974, for Te deix, amor, la mar com a penyora; Prudenci Bertrana Novel Prize, 1980, for Una primavera per a Domenico Guarini; Anagrama Prize for Nonfiction, 1988, for "La escuela de Barcelona"; Ramon Llull Prize, 1989, for Joc de miralls; Josep Pla Prize, 1994, Joan Crexells Prize, 1995, Lletra d'Or Prize, 1995, and Elio Vittorini Prize, 2000, all for Dins el darrer blau; Crítica Serra d'Or Prize, 2001, and Nacional de Cultura Literature Prize, 2001, both for Cap al cel obert; Creu de Sant Jordi Honor, 2001, for her work; Sant Jordi Prize, 2003, and Maria Angels Anglada Prize, 2005, both for La meitat de l'ánima.



Te deix, amor, la mar com a penyora (title means "I Leave You, My Love, the Sea, as a Token"), Laia (Barcelona, Spain), 1975.

Jo pos per testimoni les gavines (title means "I Call on the Seagulls as Witness"), Laia (Barcelona, Spain), 1977.

Gairebé un conte, o, La vida de Ramon Llull (title means "Almost a Short Story or Ramon Llull's Life"), Ajuntament (Barcelona, Spain), 1980.

Epitelis tendríssims (title means "Very Tender Epithelia"), Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1981.

La molt exemplar història del gos màgic i de la seva cua (title means "The Exemplary Story of the Magic Dog and Its Tail"), Empúries (Barcelona, Spain), 1988.

Contra l'amor en companyia i altres relats (title means "Against Love in Company and Other Stories"), Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1991.

A Matter of Self-Esteem and Other Stories, translated by Roser Caminals-Heath and Holly Cashman, Holmes & Meier (New York, NY), 2001.


Una primavera per a Domenico Guarini (title means "A Spring for Domenico Guarini"), Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1980.

Qüestió d'amor propi, Laia (Barcelona, Spain), 1987, translation by Roser Caminals-Heath and Holly Cashman published as A Matter of Self-Esteem and Other Stories, Holmes & Meier, (New York, NY), 2001.

Joc de miralls, Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1989, translation by Cristina de la Torre published as Mirror Images, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1993.

Dins el darrer blau, Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1994, translation by Jonathan Dunne published as In the Last Blue, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2007.

Cap al cel obert (title means "Towards the Open Skies"), Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.

La meitat de l'ánima, Proa (Barcelona, Spain), 2004.


Els cementiris de Barcelona (title means "Barcelona's Cemeteries"), Edhasa (Barcelona, Spain), 1981.

La obra poética de José Agustín Goytisolo (title means "The Poetry of José Agustín Goytisolo"), (Barcelona, Spain), 1987.

La escuela de Barcelona (title means "The Barcelona School"), Anagrama (Barcelona, Spain), 1988.

La obra poética de Carlos Barral (title means "The Poetry of Carlos Barral"), Ediciones Península (Barcelona, Spain), 1990.

Hay veneno y jazmín en su tinta: aproximación a la poesía de J.A. Goytisolo (title means "There Is Venom and Jasmine in His Ink: An Approach to the Poetry of J.A. Goytisolo"), Anthropos (Barcelona, Spain), 1991.

Llamaradas de luz (title means "Flames of Light"), (Barcelona, Spain), 1991.

Escenarios para la felicidad: estampas de Mallorca (title means "Lanscapes made for Happiness: Majorca's Pictures"), R. y J.J. de Olaúeta, (Majorca, Spain), 1994.

Rimas de Gabriel de Henao (title means "Gabriel de Henao's Rhymes"), Fundación Jorge Guillén (Valladolid, Spain), 1997.

Poesía. José Agustín Goytisolo, Cátedra (Madrid, Spain), 1999.

"Las personas del verbo" de Jaime Gil de Biedma (title means "Jaime Gil de Biedma's ‘The Verb's Inhabitants’"), Lumen (Barcelona, Spain), 1999.


Temps d'una espera (title means "Waiting Time"), Columna (Barcelona, Spain), 1998.


Es diu Maria Puig la meva mare? (title means "Is Maria Puig My Mother's Name?"), Radio Catalunya, 1989.

Quotidiana quotidianitat (title means "Familiar Ordinariness"), TV3, 1994.

Dones d'aigua (title means "Water Women"), TV3, 1997.


(Author of Catalan text) Josep Roca-Sastre, Roca-Sastre: 1928-1997, Fundacion Caixa Catalunya 9 march-11 abril 1999, Terrassa, Sala Muncunill 22 abril-23 maig 1999 (catalogue), Fundacion Caixa de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), 1999.

(Editor) José Agustín Gyotisolo, Poesía, Cátedra (Madrid, Spain), 1999.

Llengúes mortes, edited by Carles Cortés, Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 2003.

(Editor and author of prologue) José Agustín Gyotisolo, Los poemas son mi orgullo: antología poética, Lumen (Barcelona, Spain), 2003.

(With others) El País de don Quijote, Punto de Lectura (Madrid, Spain), 2005.

El Quijote desde el nacionalismo catalán, en torno al tercer centenario, Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 2005.

(Editor) Alberto Blecua and others, El Quijote y Barcelona, Lunwerg Editores (Barcelona, Spain), 2005.

Contributor to numerous magazines, newspapers, and professional journals, including El País, La Vanguardia, Quimera, El Sol, El Periódico, Insula, and Revista de Occidente.

Author's works have been translated into many languages, including Spanish, French, German, English, Italian, Dutch, Greek, and Russian.


Carme Riera has become one of the key voices in Catalan literature during the last twenty years, especially after the publication of Qüestió d'amor propi ("A Matter of Self-Esteem") in 1987. Her essays have also been widely circulated, and she is a very important critic among the Peninsular reviewers. As a university professor, she is also an important force in the study of Spanish and Catalan literature—especially twentieth-century poetry. In her role as scholar and instructor, she has lectured across Europe and in North America.

Riera's early works, short stories, soon indicated that an important voice was emerging. A Publishers Weekly contributor summarized a collection of her stories as "women struggling for independence—professional and emotional," and concluded that "Riera's overuse of the rhetoric of victimization and empowerment handicaps her in places, but these are otherwise intelligently crafted fictions." Kathleen McNerney, in On Our Own Behalf, remarked how imagery plays an important role in Riera's writing. The critic, however, pointed out that "the imagery in her work offers us a dazzling series of reflections: a look at oneself through others, a narcissism which becomes an interior voyage, a trip to the center, a deep self-analysis on the part of her protagonist. The artifacts she uses to create the images are many—the eyes of the beloved, or those in a painting; the body of a same-sex lover, a person's two lovers of the opposite sex which become two halves of a whole in a superimposed reflection; the mercury necessary to reach the inner space of alchemy; and repeatedly, the sea."

In both her short stories and novels, women are placed center stage, and as Kathleen M. Glenn stated in Moveable Margins: The Narrative of Carme Riera, "Riera's sensitivity to marginality and silencing has led her to give a voice to those who have not had one." Her second collection of short stories, Jo pos per testimoni les gavines, takes place in Majorca, Riera's birthplace, and most of the stories seem inspired by the author's childhood. These two collections of short stories were very successful according to both the Catalan critics and the Catalan audiences. The success continued when the subsequent Spanish editions were published. "Gairebé un conte, o, La vida de Ramon Llull," a short story with a nonfiction quality, explains to children the story of a Majorcan mystic. Her first novel, Una primavera per a Domenico Guarini, has been described by Janet Díaz-Pérez as "first and foremost a lingu[i]stic experience, as are many novels of the last decade in both Castilian and Catalan." It is her second novel, Qüestió d'amor propi, that reveals some elements that will define her narratives. The novel tells the story of a love affair between two professors, Angela and Miguel, and the discovery that the latter has used his female companion as material for his new novel. Angela, then, tries to persuade her friend, Ingrid, to provide Miguel with erroneous research information for his new book. Noel Valis analyzed the novel against its nineteenth-century intertextualities and argued that "in all these nineteenth-century cases, the woman writer's identity is collapsed into the sexually demarcated, gender-defined role of a woman. Distressingly, the same thing happens in Cuestión de amor propio—although with quite different consequences for the male writer. The collection of short stories titled Epitelis tendríssims surprises Riera's readers since here the stories deal openly with sexuality and, at times, are rather humorous."

With the publication of Dins el darrer blau, Riera became the first author to be awarded the prestigious National Prize of Literature in 1995 for a novel written in Catalan. The story, which was translated into English and published under the title In the Last Blue, deals with the persecution, torture, and death of Jews by the Inquisition in seventeenth-century Majorca. The historic novel is a radical departure from Riera's previous narratives both thematically and technically. It traces the tumultuous stories of the Jewish Cortes family, who are threatened by the power of the Spanish Inquisition. Jews had been expelled from Spain about two centuries earlier, and those who had converted to Catholicism (known as conversos) were under almost constant surveillance. Neighbors spied on neighbors, and families betrayed one another to the power of the Inquisition. The conflict in In the Last Blue arises when observant Jew Rafel Cortes, in a fit of religious passion, "tries to circumcise his adult male converso relatives," stated a Publishers Weekly contributor. His cousin (also known as Rafel Cortes) is one of the conversos, and has made up his mind to turn his namesake over to the Inquisition's police. An attempt by the Jews to flee from the island results in failure, and the family is taken to the Inquisitorial Palace. "Interrogation and torture ensue," declared a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "climaxing with a vengeful ‘purificatory fire.’ (In a moving final paragraph comes the explanation of Riera's perfectly chosen title.)" Janet Pérez, in Letras Peninsulares, found that the novel "is not, strictly speaking, a feminist text, although it exemplifies the tendency of many feminists in developing countries to adopt the causes of those who have been historically abused and exploited." The long novel is divided into three parts, where the author mixes different styles—journalistic, interviews among many others—and recreates several historic events under fictional names. Overall, Pérez concluded, the novel "conveys an interpretation: Mallorcan Jews were persecuted for their considerable wealth, which was confiscated, enormously enriching the Santo Oficio; their secret observances of Jewish law were but a convenient pretext."



Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, St. James Press, (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1999.

Glenn, Kathleen M., Mirella Servodidio, and Mary S. Vasquez, editors, Moveable Margins: The Narrative of Carme Riera, Bucknell University Press (Lewisburg, PA), 1999.

McNerney, Kathleen, On Our Own Behalf: Women's Tales from Catalonia, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1988.


Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of In the Last Blue, p. 1099.

Letras Peninsulares, fall, 1999, Janet Pérez, "Text and Context of Carme Riera's En el último azul," pp. 239-254.

Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2001, review of A Matter of Self-Esteem and Other Stories, p. 78; November 27, 2006, review of In the Last Blue, p. 33.

Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, winter, 1999, Noël Valis, "True Confessions: Carme Riera's Cuestión de amor propio," pp. 311-327.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1981, Janet Díaz-Pérez, "Carme Riera: Una primavera para Domenico Guarini," p. 658.


Escriptors en Llengua Catalana,http://www.escriptors.com/ (September 10, 2002), author biography and commentary.