Aritzeta i Abad, Margarida

b. 1953, Valls (Tarragona)
   Writer
   A professor at the University of Tarragona, Aritzeta has also worked in radio and won a number of prizes for her Catalan fiction. Her stories and novels range from realistic to delightfully unreal, exaggerated or absurd. Topics include the environment, gender changes, ageing, the Native Americans of Canada, political coverups, and manipulation of the media and language. She is also active in cultural journalism and literary criticism, contributing articles to numerous arts magazines in Catalonia. Her first novel, Quan la pedra es torna fang a les mans (When Stone Turns to Mud in Our Hands) (1981), won the Víctor Català Prize, and Un febrer a la pell (A February Under the Skin), set against the background of the Tejerazo of 23 February 1981, won the Sant Jordi Prize. Aritzeta's narrative is wide-ranging in form and style as well as theme; she has successfully crafted detective fiction, science fiction, and imaginative adventures. Her public is also varied, including subway commuters, literary critics, and children. Addressed to young people but intriguing enough for any suspense fan is Un rock d'estiu (A Summer Rock Band) (1992), with the narrator(s) shifting between singular and plural in the first person. Teenagers trying to launch a hard rock group and at the same time take vengeance on authority figures, especially the stodgy old English professor, find that things are not as simple as they thought, and that perhaps they bit off more than they could chew. The language is colloquial and captures the frustrations and fantasies, the hopes and disappointments of the volatile group.
   A tribute to Aritzeta's great versatility and imagination, Atlàntida (Atlantis) (1995) draws on a number of sources: several mythologies in addition to the legend of the lost island, Catalan folklore, and the beloved nineteenth-century poet and priest, Jacint Verdaguer, who wrote a long and splendid work by the same name. An adventure novel in which humans, semi-gods, and fantastic beings cohabitate, the narration revolves around a quest for fertility: a tender shoot must be returned to a devastated land to restore it to health and well-being.
   In L'home inventat (The Invented Man) (1996), Aritzeta plays literary games with the detective genre. The protagonist is a writer of mystery novels who proposes a macabre scheme to fend off boredom. She uses real writers and has them assassinated in her fiction, but finds more reality than she expected intruding into her plan.
   Aritzeta is a prolific writer whose work offers us a puzzle for our time while exploring universal problems with humour and elegance.
   Further reading
   - McNerney, K. (1991) " The Feminist Science Fiction of Margarida Aritzeta", in B.Lawton and A.Tamburri (eds) Romance Languages Annual, West Lafayette, IN: Purdue Research Foundation, pp. 488–90.
   KATHLEEN McNERNEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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