Valerie Miles

Valerie Miles

Valerie Miles

Valerie Miles is an American writer, translator, and editor living in Barcelona. She was the editorial director of Emecé Editores and associate director of Alfaguara, and for several years oversaw the New York Review Books classics collection in Spanish. In 2003 she co-founded Granta en español, now a project of Galaxia Gutenberg. Her articles and stories have appeared in The New York Times, El País, La Vanguardia, and in magazines such as the Paris Review, Harper’s, and Granta. Miles translates from the Spanish and Catalán and is a professor in the postgraduate program for literary translation at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Her first book, A Thousand Forests in One Acorn: An Anthology of Spanish Language Fiction, was published by Open Letter in 2014.

cover image of the book Cremation


The booming post-Franco years have left everything up for grabs along a stretch of the Mediterranean coastline of Spain: real-estate developers scramble to transform the once pastoral landscape into resorts, nightclubs, and beachfront properties with lavish pools. Cremation opens with the death of Matías, a paterfamilias who had rejected all of these changes and whose passing sets off a chain reaction, uncovering guilts and resentments that had been buried for years and leading those closest to him to question the paths they’ve chosen.

In a rich mosaic narrative, filled with a hypnotic chorus of voices, Cremation explores the coked-up champagne fizz of luxurious parties and underworlds of political corruption, prostitution, and ruthless financial speculation. The novel follows the melancholy ouroboros of capitalist greed that led to the financial crash and captures something essential about our values, our choices, and our all-too-human mistakes. Like William Faulkner or Francis Bacon, Chirbes stares clear-eyed into the abyss and portrays us as we really are.

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cover image of the book Because She Never Asked

Because She Never Asked

Because She Never Asked is a story reminiscent of that reached by the travelers in Patricia Highsmith’s Stranger on a Train. The author shall write a piece for the artist Sophie Calle to live out: a young, aspiring French artist travels to Lisbon and the Azores in pursuit of an older artist whose work she’s in love with. The second part of the story tells what happens between the author and Calle. She eludes him; he becomes blocked and suffers physical collapse.

“Something strange happened along the way,” Vila-Matas wrote. “Normally, writers try to pass off a work fiction as being real. But in Because She Never Asked, the opposite occurred: in order to give meaning to the story of my life, I found that I needed to present it as fiction.”

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cover image of the book On the Edge

On the Edge

by Rafael Chirbes

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

With a contribution by Valerie Miles

On the Edge opens in a swamp on the outskirts of Olba, Spain, a town wracked by despair after the economic bubble bursts. Stuck in this corrupt, defeated town is Esteban—his small factory bankrupt and his investments stolen by a “friend.” Much of the novel unfolds in Esteban’s raw and tormented monologues. But other voices resound from the wreckage—soloists stepping forth from the choir with their own terse, hypnotic rants about debt, prostitution, and ruin. However, now and again, with his own majestic authorial voice, Chirbes interrupts the chorus, allowing a lyrical note to usher in profound if uncertain hopes. On the Edge, as Valerie Miles writes in her afterword, “is masterful, a centrifugal novel with sentences like sticky tentacles that clutch onto readers and suck them into a swirling, tempestuous, pulsating center.”

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