Javier Marías

Javier Marías was born in Madrid, the second youngest son of the philosopher Julián Marías. Marías began writing at an early age; “The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga”, one of the short stories within While the Women are Sleeping, was written when he was just fourteen. He studied English Literature at University in Madrid and has translated into Spanish works by Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Isak Dinesen, Shakespeare, and Seamus Heaney. In 1997 A Heart So White won the IMPAC Dublin literary award and became a bestseller in Europe.

Javier Marias has taught at Universities in Madrid, Oxford and Venice and at Wellesley College, Boston. His novel, All Souls, set in Oxford and containing a sensitive portrayal of the English writer, John Gawsworth, led to Marias inheriting the Kingdom Of Redonda, a real but barren island in the Caribbean. Marias has turned Redonda into a “literary” kingdom––winners of the annual prize are awarded in both money and an honorary duchy.

Javier Marias has been described as “one of the most original writers today” (The New York Times Book Review) and his recent work—the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy—has been hailed as “the first authentic literary masterpiece of the 21st century” (The Guardian). He currently publishes a weekly column for the Spanish newspaper El Pais. His work has been published in more than 34 languages.

Interview in the Paris Review, 2006

Related Articles

While the Women Are Sleeping

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Slippery figures in anomalous situations – ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals – haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange and special secrets, and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his much younger lover endlessly videotapes her every move, and then confides his surprising plans for her; in another a ghost can’t stop resigning from his job. Masterfully, Marías manages in a small space to perplex and delight.…
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Bad Nature, or with Elvis in Mexico

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen

A boiled-down gem of a Marías story about how Elvis (in Acapulco to film a movie) and his hard-drinking entourage abandon their interpreter in a seedy cantina full of enraged criminals after insults start to fly. When the local kingpin demands to be told what the Americans are saying, Elvis himself delivers an even more stinging parting shot – and who has to translate that?
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Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 3: Poison, Shadow, & Farewell

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

A spectacular finale, Poison, Shadow and Farewell brings to a close Javier Marías’s daring, unfolding three-part novel Your Face Tomorrow. Marías’s magnum opus has already been acclaimed “exquisite” (Publishers Weekly), “gorgeous” (Kirkus), and “outstanding: another work of urgent originality” (London Independent). With its heightened tensions between meditations and noir narrative, Poison, Shadow and Farewell takes our hero, Jacques Deza––hired by a shady branch of M16 as a person of perception––back to Madrid to spy on and try to protect his own family, as he plunges into new depths of love and loss.…
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Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 2: Dance & Dream

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

A book unlike any other, a daring experiential unfolding Spanish masterpiece, Your Face Tomorrow now leaps into uncharted new territory in Volume Two: Dance and Dream. Your Face Tomorrow, Javier Marías’s dazzling unfolding magnum opus, is a novel in three parts, which began with Volume One: Fever and Spear (New Directions, 2005). Described as a “brilliant dark novel” (Scotland on Sunday), the book now takes a wild swerve in its new volume.…
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The Man of Feeling

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Narrated by a young opera star, The Man of Feeling opens as he recalls traveling on a train from Milan to Venice, silently absorbed for hours by the woman asleep opposite his seat. In the measured tones of memory, the novel revolves on the twin poles of anticipation and recollection. Our protagonist’s peculiar rarified life – a life of rehearsal and performance and luxury hotels and constant travel – and his resulting almost ghost-like detachment adds a deeper tone to Marías’s weave of desire and distance.…
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Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 1: Fever & Spear

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Part spy novel, part romance, part Henry James, Your Face Tomorrow is a wholly remarkable display of the immense gifts of Javier Marias. With Fever and Spear, Volume One of his unfolding novel Your Face Tomorrow, he returns us to the rarified world of Oxford (the delightful setting of All Souls and Dark Back of Time), while introducing us to territory entirely new—espionage. Our hero, Jaime Deza, separated from his wife in Madrid, is a bit adrift in London until his old friend Sir Peter Wheeler–retired Oxford don and semi-retired master spy—recruits him for a new career in British Intelligence.…
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Written Lives

Nonfiction by Javier Marías

In addition to his own busy career as “one of Europe’s most intriguing contemporary writers” (TLS), Javier Marías is also the translator into Spanish of works by Hardy, Stevenson, Conrad, Faulkner, Nabokov, and Laurence Sterne. His love for these authors is the touchstone of Written Lives. Collected here are twenty pieces recounting great writers’ lives, “or, more precisely, snippets of writers’ lives.” Thomas Mann, Rilke, Arthur Conan Doyle, Turgenev, Djuna Barnes, Emily Brontë, Malcolm Lowry, and Kipling appear (“all fairly disastrous individuals”), and “almost nothing” in his stories is invented.…
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Dark Back of Time

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated by Esther Allen

Called by its author a “false novel,” Dark Back of Time begins with the tale of the odd effects of publishing All Souls, his witty and sardonic 1989 Oxford novel. All Souls is a book Marias swears to be fiction, but which its “characters”––the real-life dons and professors and bookshop owners who have “recognized themselves––fiercely maintain to be a roman á clef. With the sleepy world of Oxford set into fretful motion by a world that never “existed,” Marías further stirs things up by weaving together autobiography (the brother who died as a child; the loss of his mother), a legendary kingdom, strange ghostly literary figures, maps and photographs, halls of mirrors, a one-eyed pilot, a bullet lost in Mexico, and a curse in Havana.…
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When I Was Mortal

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Eavesdroppers, failed bodyguards, night doctors, forgers, liars, suicides, assassins, and ghosts populate the dozen stories of When I Was Mortal. “In the space of ten or twenty pages,” as the Nouvel Observateur remarked, “Marías contrives to write a novel.” “The short story fits Marías like a glove,” as Le Point noted, and these stories have been acclaimed as “formidably intelligent” (The London Review of Books); and “startling” (The New York Times Book Review); “a refreshing discovery… [they] should be welcomed here like a bracing tonic” (The Chicago Tribune).…
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A Heart So White

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

With unnerving insistence A Heart So White chronicles the relentless power of the past. Juan knows little of the interior life of his father Ranz; but when Juan marries, he considers the past anew, and begins to ponder what he doesn’t really want to know. Secrecy, its possible convenience, its price, and even its civility permeates the novel. A Heart So White becomes a sort of anti-detective story of human nature.…
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Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me

Fiction by Javier Marías

Marta has just met Victor when she invites him to dinner at her Madrid apartment while her husband is away on business. When her two-year-old son finally falls asleep, Marta and Victor move to the bedroom. Undressing, she feels suddenly ill; and in his arms, inexplicably, she dies. What should Victor do? Remove the compromising tape from the phone machine? Leave food for the child, for breakfast? How soon will someone discover her death?…
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All Souls

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

With high black humor, a visiting Spanish lecturer bends his gaze over that most British of institutions, Oxford University. In All Souls, our narrator views Oxford through a prismatic detachment, alternately amused, puzzled, delighted, and disgusted by its vagaries of human vanity. A bit lonely, not always able to see his charming but very married mistress, he casts about for activity; he barely has to teach. His stay of two years, he recalls, involved duties which “were practically nil” – “Oxford is a city in syrup, where simply being is far more important than doing or even acting.…
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This brilliant novel is surely one of the greatest the century has so far produced.

—Mark Ford, *New York Review of Books *

Startling.

The New York Times Book Review

It is a rare gift to be offered a writer who lives in our own time but speaks with the intensity of the past, who comes with the extra richness lent by a foreign history and nonetheless knows our own culture inside and out.

—Wendy Lesser, The New York Times Book Review

The work of a supreme stylist…The two protagonists’ civilized but complex marriages recall the compelling intricacies of Henry James…It is brilliantly done.

—James Woodall, The Times

Stylish, cerebral… Marías is a startling talent.

New York Times

The most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature.

Boston Globe

Marías’s most extravagant showcase for ‘literary thinking’ so far. It also serves as a compelling introduction to his writing.

—Wyatt Mason, The New Yorker

Your Face Tomorrow is already being compared to Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, and rightly so. It is a novel of extraordinary subtlety and pathos.

The Observer

These stories provide a fascinating insight into the development of a great writer; particularly his experimentation with voice and subject matter.

The Independent
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