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"Javier Cercas Mena (born 1962 in Ibahernando) is a writer and professor of Spanish literature at the University of Girona, Spain. He was born in Ibahernando, Cáceres, Spain. He is a frequent contributor to the Catalan edition of El País and the Sunday supplement. He worked for two years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States. He is one of a group of well-known Spanish novelists, which includes Julio Llamazares, Andrés Trapiello, and Jesus Ferrero, who have published fiction in the vein of ""historical memory"", focusing on the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist State. Soldiers of Salamis (translated by Anne McLean) won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2004, and McLean's translations of his novels The Speed of Light and Outlaws were shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award in 2008 and 2016 respectively.
An essential collection of literary criticism by one of Spain's most acclaimed authors
Javier Cercas is one of the most enjoyable and innovative novelists at work today. Well known among English-language readers as the author of Soldiers of Salamis(winner of the Independent Foreign Fictio Prize), The Anatomy of a Moment and The Impostor, Cercas is also Professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Girona. In 2015, following in the footsteps of George Steiner, Mario Vargas Llosa and Umberto Eco, as Weidenfeld Visiting Professor in Comparative European Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford, Cercas gave a series of five lectures on the novel today, which have since been revised and are now published in English for the first time as The Blind Spot.
Starting with Don Quixote and his own experience as a writer, Cercas launches out into a consideration of the most challenging fiction of the last hundred years, from Kafka, Borges, Perec, Calvino and Kundera, to Sebald, Coetzee, Barnes, Foster Wallace and Knausgård. First, he defines and celebrates certain aspects of the novel in the twenty-first century which are also features of Cervantes' masterpiece: its essential irony and ambiguity, its total commitment to innovation, its natural, joyful and omnivorous desire to cram the whole world within its pages, and its intricate concern with fiction and reality. Then he moves on to consider the actual meaning of the novel, the uncertain and discredited role of the writer as intellectual, and the role of the reader in the creation of a form whose aim is to tell the truth by telling lies.
The result is a dazzling short book which provides a new interpretation of novel from Cervantes and Melville to the present, and which will be as stimulating for readers and writers of literature in the twenty-first century as E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel or Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel were in the last.