Lucía Etxebarria

Lucia 1

Lucía Etxebarria was born in Valencia in 1966 and has a daughter, a dog, three tattoos and innumerable scars of both the visible and invisible variety. She has been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen and her work has been translated into 14 languages.

Etxebarria became famous after her novel Beatriz y los Cuerpos Celestes won the prestigious Nadal Prize in 1996 and since then she has become a well-known writer and outspoken commentator on topics including book piracy and the role of women in society. She is the author of over 15 books (novels and essays), including Amor, curiosidad, prozac y dudas (1997), Nosotras que no somos como las demás (1999) and De todo lo visible y lo invisible (2001). Her work usually centres around female characters who are looking for an emotional space of their own. Her novels and essays analyse the concept of gender and feminine sexuality and defend the rights of women on both a social and literary level.

She has won many prestigious literary prizes in Spain, including the Nadal Prize (1997), the Primavera Prize (2001) and the Planeta Prize (2004).

Featured Reading Group Title

Beatriz y los cuerpos celestes (Beatriz And The Heavenly Bodies)


Beatriz and the Heavenly Bodies explores the life and loves of Bea, a young Spanish woman. At the beginning of the novel, Bea is 22 years old and returning to her native Madrid after spending 4 years studying in Edinburgh. She leaves behind her loving but needy girlfriend, Cat, and her distant and occasional lover, Ralph. For Bea, returning to Madrid means to get together with her best friend Monica, who she is in love with and who has been involved in some tragic events. This is her chance to find out what happened to Monica and to decide whether to end her relationship with Cat. Monica is highly promiscuous and is sleeping with Coco to guarantee her supply of drugs. Coco and Monica draw Bea into their world, and Bea goes along with all their plans. Soon, things beginning to take a violent turn.

A powerful, absorbing novel about relationships, particularly between women. The title is a reference to the planetary theme that runs through the novel. People are compared to planets, suns, stars, satellites and moons; they are attracted or repulsed by gravitational forces beyond their control: “We women are all worlds, planets that orbit around a basic energy source: affection, or the lack of it”…

More Information

  • Beatriz and the Heavenly Bodies is featured in our Spanish Reading Group Autumn 2012.
  • Catherine Mansfield’s sample translation [download id=”61″] is available to download for free. Let us know what you think by commenting below.


  1. Lauren Coulter says:

    Este historia me parece emocionante y sentido, y pienso que tiene la poder de moverse. No puedo leerlo (sin muchas problemas) en el lenguaje original, pero el extracto me tiró adentro, y por eso, este proyecto tiene mi apoyo completo!

  2. Fluent style, but repetitive, and both awkward and a bit obvious at times, with the narrator speaking in clichés; this reduces interest in her as a figure that captivates.

    As with Ávila Laurel, a one-paced excerpt telling us everything about a past time; there is no real work for us to do as readers (which I personally prefer to have), this time with paragraphs all of one rhythm and tone – an outbreak of reported dialogue the only moment of a change in dynamic.

    The fact that the girl’s relationship with her mother will “fall apart” at some point, is signalled in a ponderous manner, and suggests I won’t still have much interest in the event after a monotonous preparation. Most of all, one dreads this crisis being narrated as a continuing report on events, rather than being allowed to happen “before our eyes” in some kind of live dialogue.

    The penultimate paragraph is an awful intrusion into what went before, the kind of mystical-meaningful symbolism that shows none of the subtlety I personally expect from a writer who’s served her apprenticeship – although I note that this title is a very early work from her long and rather full list of fiction piled up in just two decades. (Does this suggest a less than hard-working, (shamelessly) “literary” author?)

  3. Cassie Stafford says:

    I like the style, but the subject matter seems disappointingly conventional – there’s not much to intrigue me in this extract anyway. But maybe that’s because of its introductory tone, because nothing is actually happening yet. I get the feeling she knows how to write characters, but I’d like to hear some dialogue to really know..

  4. Claudia Blanco says:

    I don’t understand how you have chosen such a bad writer and novel. I started reading long time ago and stopped after few pages. I think there are much more interesting writers in the Spanish speaking world than Lucia Etxebarria

  5. catmansfield says:

    Hi guys,
    I’m the translator who translated this extract and it sounds like a lot of the negative comments on here are to do with my choice of extract. I personally am really interested in relationships between mothers and daughters (that’s one of my things) so I chose this particular extract on that basis – but the book is actually full of more unconventional subject matter (it is mostly about a girl on a wild rampage around Madrid with two drug addicts). If I get time I’ll try to do another extract. Also, if any of you would like to read the book I have a copy: email me on

    • Thanks for the note, Catherine; translation has so many complications – and particularly what to present as a sample of the work.

      I took it as read that this was the opening to the novel, and for that reason was particularly disappointed. I did buy Javier Marias’ “Corazon tan blanco/A Heart So White” merely on the strength of the first page, read in a bookshop, and although the novel never quite lived up to its opening blaze, I still think a writer/translator/publisher has a hard job selling a book with a weak opening.

      I would always be interested to give a writer another chance… (but maybe not two more chances! The reading life is short.)


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