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Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (14 June 1939 in Barcelona[1] – 18 October 2003 in Bangkok) was a prolific Spanish writer: journalist, novelist, poet, essayist, anthologue, prologist, humorist, critic and political prisoner as well as a gastronome and a FC Barcelona supporter.[2]


  • Biography 1
  • Detective Carvalho saga 2
  • The gastronome 3
  • Essays 4
  • Awards in his name 5
  • Books available in English 6
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8


Vázquez Montalbán was born in Barcelona on 14 June 1939. His parents did not register his birth until 27 July; many sources show 27 July or 14 July as his birth date.[1] He studied Philosophy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and was also a member of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia. He spent 18 months in prison after attending a 1962 miner's strike.[3]

He began writing poetry in 1967. He is one of the Novísimos from Jose María Castellet. His poetic works until 1986 are collected in Memoria y deseo ("Memory and desire").

The same characteristic features of his poetry appear in his novels. Los Mares del Sur (The South Seas), part of the Pepe Carvalho series, won the Planeta Award in 1979, bringing fame for both the writer and the fictional detective, who would later be portrayed in films, TV series and comic strips. Other narrative works include narrative productions Galíndez (1991), winner of the National Narrative Award; El estrangulador (The strangler) (1994) and Erec y Enide (Erec and Enide) (2002). In 1992 he published Autobiografía del general Franco, which was awarded the 1994 international prize Premio Internacional de Literatura Ennio Flaiano. For many years, he contributed columns and articles to the Madrid-based daily newspaper El País.

He died in Bangkok, Thailand, while returning to his home country from a speaking tour of Australia. His last book, La aznaridad, was published posthumously.[4]

Detective Carvalho saga

The first novel featuring the 50-year-old gastronome-detective Pepe Carvalho is Yo maté a Kennedy (I killed Kennedy) in 1972, followed by Tatuaje (Tattoo) in 1975 and La soledad del manager (The Angst-Ridden Executive) in 1977.

The rest of the Pepe Carvalho saga is as follows:

  • Los Mares del Sur (Southern Seas) 1979
  • Asesinato en el Comité Central (Murder in the Central Committee) 1981
  • Los pájaros de Bangkok (The Birds of Bangkok) 1983
  • La rosa de Alejandría (Alexandria's Rose) 1984
  • El balneario (The Spa) 1986
  • El delantero centro fue asesinado al atardecer (Offside) 1989
  • El laberinto griego (The Greek Labyrinth) 1991
  • Sabotaje olímpico (Olympic Sabotage) 1993
  • El hermano pequeño (The Little Brother) 1994
  • El Premio (The Prize) 1996
  • Quinteto de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Quintet) 1997
  • El hombre de mi vida (The Man of My Life) 2000
  • Milenio Carvalho (Carvalho Millennium) 2004, edited in two parts.

The gastronome

Vázquez Montalbán was also a gastronome. Gastronomical references can be found in all the novels of the Pepe Carvalho series, which include some recipes such as the "rice tagliatelle fideuà" that Carvalho prepares in Los pájaros de Bangkok. He displays all his gastronomic knowledge, with erudition and humility, in Contra los Gourmets (Against Gourmets), an initiation in the world of gastronomy. Contra los Gourmets concentrates on Spanish cuisine, but covers international cuisine, traditional cuisine and nouvelle cuisine. He also considers eating fashions such as "healthy food" and "light products". Other gastronomic works by Montalbán are Cocina Catalana (Catalan cuisine) and Recetas inmorales (Immoral recipes).


He wrote essays about journalism, politics, sociology, sports, history, cuisine, biographies, literature or music. His first essay, Informe sobre la Información (Report about Information) (1963) is still one of the best studies on journalism ever published in Spain. Some of his other works are:

  • Crónica sentimental de España (Sentimental Chronicle of Spain), 1971
  • Joan Manuel Serrat, 1972
  • El libro gris de Televisión Española (The Grey TV Book), 1973
  • Diccionario del Franquismo, (Dictionary of the Franco times) 1977
  • Panfleto desde el planeta de los simios (Pamphlet from the Planet of the Apes), 1995
  • Un polaco en la corte del rey Juan Carlos (A Pole in the Court of King Juan Carlos), 1996, an analysis of the political life in Madrid, in the last years of Felipe González's government.
  • Y Dios entró en La Habana (And God entered La Habana), 1998, about Cuba, Fidel Castro and the visit of the Pope John Paul II.
  • Marcos: el señor de los espejos (Marcos: the Lord of the Mirrors), 1999.

Awards in his name

To commemorate him, the FC Barcelona Foundation and the Catalan College of Journalists have awarded the Manuel Vázquez Montalbán International Journalism Award since 2004.[5] The award includes two categories:

  • Sport Journalism.
  • Cultural and/or Political Journalism.

Also, the Italian writer Andrea Camilleri called his main character Salvo Montalbano in honour of him.

Books available in English

  • Tattoo (Tatuaje) 1975, 2013
  • The Angst-Ridden Executive (La soledad del manager) 1977, 2012
  • Southern Seas (Los Mares del Sur) 1979, 2012
  • Murder in the Central Committee (Asesinato en el Comité Central) 1981, 2012
  • Offside (El delantero centro fue asesinado al atardecer) 1989, 2012
  • An Olympic Death (El laberinto griego) 1992
  • Galindez (Galíndez) 1991, translation 1992, Carol and Thomas Christensen
  • The Buenos Aires Quintet (Quinteto de Buenos Aires) 1997, 2012, 2012
  • The Man of My Life (El hombre de mi vida) 2000, translation 2005, Nick Caistor


  1. ^ a b Note 126
  2. ^ Spanish Noir: Tattoo: A Pepe Carvalho Mystery by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
  3. ^ Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
  4. ^ Presentación póstuma del último libro de Vázquez Montalbán, «La aznaridad» (La Voz de Galicia)
  5. ^ Manuel Vázquez Montalbán Awards

External links

  • Very good website about Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
  • (Spanish) Some of his poems in Spanish
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