Rivas, Manuel 1957–

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Rivas, Manuel 1957–

(Manolo Rivas)

PERSONAL: Born 1957, in La Coruña, Galicia, Spain.

CAREER: Journalist, novelist, poet, director, and movie scriptwriter. Luzes de Galicia (magazine), editor; has worked on a variety of Spanish and Galician newspapers, including El Ideal Gallego, La Voz de Galicia, and El Pais. Director of "Mayday" segmen of Hay motivo!, 2004.

AWARDS, HONORS: Spanish Critics Award, 1990, for Un millón de vacas; Galician Critics Award, 1994, for En salvaje compañia; Premio Nacional de Literatura and Torrente Ballester Prize, both 1996, both for Que me queres, amor?; Premio Critica, 1999; Goya Award for best adapted screenplay, 2000, for La lengua de las Mariposas; Spanish National Narrative Prize nomination, 2005; ONCE Prize; Leliadoura Prize, for Ningún cisne; Arcebispo Xoan de san Clemente e o da Critica Prize.


Galicia, el bonsái atlántico: Descripción del antiguo reino del oeste (nonfiction), El Pais/Aguilar (Madrid, Spain), 1989.

Un millón de vacas (short stories; title means "A Million Cows"), Ediciones B, Grupo Zeata (Barcelona, Spain), 1990.

Os comedores de patacas, Edicións Xerais de Galicia (Vigo, Spain), 1991.

Toxos e flores, Edicións Xerais de Galicia (Vigo, Spain), 1992.

En sanvaje compañía (title means "In Wild Company"), Santillana (Madrid, Spain), 1994.

Que me queres, amor? (short stories; title means "What Is It That You Need from Me, Love?"), Editorial Galaxia (Vigo, Spain), 1995.

El periodismo es un cuento, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1997.

El lápiz del carpintero (novel), Edicións Xerais de Galicia (Vigo, Spain), 1999, translated by Jonathan Dunne as The Carpenter's Pencil, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 2001.

El secreto de la tierra, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1999.

A man dos paiños, Ediciones Xerais de Galicia (Vigo, Spain), 2000.

Ella, maldita alma (novel; title means "She, Damn Soul"), notes by Dolores Vilavedra, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 2000.

(With Xerardo Estéves) Compostela, vanguardia y sosiego, photographs by Xurxo Lobato, Lunwerg Edi-tores (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.

La llamadas perdidas, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 2002.

In the Wilderness, translated by Jonathan Dunne, Harvill (London, England), 2003, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 2005.

En salvage compania, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 2004.

Unha espia no reino de Galicia, Ediciones Xerais de Galicia (Vigo, Spain), 2004.

Contributor to World Today, BBC World Service.

Contributor to periodicals, including Anoso Terra, El Ideal Gallego, and El Pais.


Libro do entroido (title means "Book of Entroido"), 1979.

(With Cabier Seoane) Anisia e outras sombras (title means "Anisia and Other Shadows"), 1981.

Balada nas praias do Oeste (title means "Ballad of the Western Beaches"), Ediciones Sotelo Blanco (Barcelona, Spain), 1985.

Mohicania, 1987.

Ningún cisne (title means "Any Swan"), Soteblan, 1989.

Costa da Morte Blues (title means "The Coast of Death Blues"), introduction by Antón Mouzo, Edicións Xerais de Galicia (Vigo, Spain), 1995.

El pueblo de la noche (title means "The Town of the Night"), 1997.


La rosa de piedra, Sogecable, 1999.

La lengua de las mariposas (title means "Butterfly Tongues"), Los Producciones del Escorpion, 1999, released as Butterfly, Miramax Pictures, 2000.

(Author of story) Primer amor, 2000.

(As Manolo Rivas; author of story) Xinetas la tormen-tas, 2001.

(Coauthor) Hai que botalos (author of segment "Punto final"), A Fraga Maldita, 2005.

ADAPTATIONS: El lápiz del carpintero was adapted to film in 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: Manuel Rivas is a Spanish writer who has won praise for his poetry, fiction, and journalism. He began his literary career as a journalist with El Ideal Gallego. In 1979 he published his first poetry collection, Libro do entroido, following that volume with more than fifteen additional works, including verse volumes such as Balada nas praias do Oeste and Mohi-cania. He has also issued short story collections such as Un millón de vacas, for which he received the Spanish Critics Award in 1990, and Que me queres, amor?, which earned him the Premio Critica in 1999.

One of Rivas's novels, El lápiz del carpintero, appeared in English translation as The Carpenter's Pencil. The novel concerns the harrowing adventures of Daniel da Barca, who is a physician during the Spanish Civil War. A Republican, da Barca lands in prison, but on two occasions he manages to be spared from execution. During his incarceration, da Barca makes the acquaintance of a hardened guard, who eventually sympathizes with the hero's plight and arranges for his transfer to a safer prison, where he soon falls in with other Republican conspirators. The Carpenter's Pencil has been praised as a moving account of one individual's struggle to survive during wartime. Booklist reviewer Ted Leventhal, acknowledging Rivas as "one of the most popular and talented contemporary Spanish writers" today, described the novel as a "poignant story." A Publishers Weekly critic deemed it "a work of endearing nobility," while Lawrence Olszewski described it in a Library Journal assessment as an "admirable" work.

Three of Rivas's short stories have been filmed by director Jose Luis Cuerda as Butterfly. Set in Spain on the cusp of the Spanish Civil War, the film centers on Moncho, a young boy starting school in a classroom in Galicia, and his relationship with his kindly old teacher, Don Gregorio, who helps him discover the beauty and wonders the world has to offer. Life in the village is happy, and Moncho's home life is pleasant, until the fascist uprising brings unwanted and unexpected changes to everyone. "This film is easy to watch and difficult to forget," remarked Steve Schneider in Orlando Weekly. "The film's ending poses a hard question for the viewer: Would we behave more bravely than the characters on the screen do?," asked Roger Ebert in a review on the Roger Ebert Web site."We are fortunate to live in easy times," Ebert concluded. This film was described by Richard Corliss in Time as "a savory cocktail with a bitter twist."

La llamadas perdidas is a collection of twenty-five short stories centering on themes that recur in Rivas's work, including the Spanish Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, and the lives and reactions of people living under the repressive Franco regime. "The prose contains a poetic rhythm, which, although highly original, clashes with what one would expect to find in the uneducated and rural characters portrayed in the stories," observed reviewer Luis Larios Vendrell in World Literature Today.

In the Wilderness is a "darkly dazzling vision of purgatory in 1980s Galicia," remarked Ben Spier in Entertainment Weekly. In the Galician village of Aran, the residents are watched over, and commented upon, by the souls of former residents who have passed on and who have been reincarnated as various animals. Rosa grows up to marry Cholo, a brutal man with whom she has three children. Befriending the wealthy, dying Misia, the unhappy Rosa also takes some comfort in a lover, Spiderman, who has returned home after working in construction in New York. Observing and gossiping on these events are Don Xil, a former village priest who has returned to earth as a book-nibbling mouse; a village anarchist, brought back in the form of a menacing cat; a flock of three hundred crows, who were once poets in the court of medieval Galician royalty; and a thoughtful lizard who was once a producer of crime dramas for television. A Publishes Weekly reviewer called the novel a "poignant, lyrical meditation" on history and commented that Rivas's "delicate, restrained magical realism, limpidly translated, deploys Galician folklore to lend a mythic resonance" to a story about Spain's reluctant transformation from an urban society to a modern urban lifestyle. A Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded: "An ingenious conjoining of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Kipling's animal tales and Galician folklore, all in an effervescent fiction that vibrates with wit, energy and charm."



Booklist, May 15, 2001, Ted Leventhal, review of The Carpenter's Pencil, p. 1733.

Entertainment Weekly, March 3, 2006, Ben Spier, review of In the Wilderness, p. 105.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2001, reviews of The Carpenter's Pencil, p. 358, and In the Wilderness, p. 562.

Library Journal, March 15, 2001, Lawrence Olszewski, review of The Carpenter's Pencil, p. 106.

Orlando Weekly, August 17, 2000, Steve Schneider, review of Butterfly.

Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2001, review of The Carpenter's Pencil, p. 54; May 23, 2005, review of In the Wilderness, p. 58.

Time, July 24, 2000, Richard Corliss, review of Butterfly, p. 68.

World Literature Today, July-September, 2003, Luis Larios Vendrell, review of Las llamadas perdidas, p. 153.


International Literature Festival Web site, http://www.literaturfestival.com/ (September 1, 2006), biography of Manuel Rivas.

Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (September 1, 2006), list of screenplays by Manuel Rivas.

Roger Ebert Home Page, http://www.rogerebert.com/ (September 1, 2006), review of Butterfly.