30 November 2011

Enrique Vila-Matas, literary executor of Enrique Vila-Matas

Pedro M. Domene: If I may, I’d like to begin this interview by asking how much in your texts is fiction, and how much is autobiography?

Enrique Vila-Matas: The broad passageway that joins fiction and reality is cool and well-ventilated, and the air within blows about with the same natural ease with which I mix biography and invention.


PMD: In [Dublinesca], you persist in rendering homage to your favorite writers with extraordinary tributes, as you have done for years. In this case, it’s Bloomsday, Joyce, and the Irish saga.

EVM: The atmosphere in this book is that of the Irish novels. The more rainy passages of Dublinesca touch upon it. «Old age, disease, the gray climate, a silence of centuries. Boredom, rain, sheer curtains closed up to the outside world. Familiar ghosts from Aribau Street. We needn’t seek out palliative remedies to ease the pain of our parents’ drama, or of our own. Aging is disastrous.» This gray atmosphere and this boredom are there in Dublin, and in the Irish novels.

PMD: Does Dublinesca assume a celebration of the intellect with its abundant references to books and authors, as well as the constant shadow of Ulysses?

EVM: A celebration of the intellect? It’s clearly not my place to say so.


PMD: ... [W]ho will foresee the end of literature first, a publisher or a writer?

EVM: I am sure that one day there will come a writer who will be the last. There will be a last writer; there has to be. I see him without any publisher, and I couldn’t really say why. The last publisher will come before the last writer. The writer will be alone in the world, ultimately and without a doubt, alone. And he’ll think these kinds of things, for example: «The creative work belongs to the author.»


PMD: What have you inherited from the old Vila- Matas, I mean the author previous to Exploradores del abismo (2007)?

EVM: I am his executor. I manage his work. I maintain the friendships that he had. I’ve advised him upon relocating to another neighborhood and a new house. I’ve also given him advice on changing his character, and now he’s more pleasant. I manage his life sensibly

- from an interview with Enrique Vila-Matas where he talked about his novel Dublinesca (Dublinesque, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean and Rosalind Harvey, 2012).

Enrique Vila-Matas has written several books in Spanish; three are currently available in translation: Bartleby & Co., Montano’s Malady (also published as Montano), and Never Any End to Paris. At least five of his books were admired by Roberto Bolaño – La asesina ilustrada, Una casa para siempre, Bartleby & Co., Para acabar con los números redondos, and Suicidios ejemplares.

Related links:

Literary brotherhood (related posts)
Official website (English page)
"East End" (fiction)
"Adhesive Tales" (in Spanish)
"Doctor Vila-Matas" by Ednodio Quintero


  1. Ah, what great quotes. While it's not the best one by far, for me I'd like to appropriate...what, you just removed it as I was typing? "I try and do a lot of things, but I do not always remember what I attempt." Or something like that. A great line for any writer or would-be writer, no doubt. Cheers!

  2. Indeed, Richard. You paraphrased that quote well. I had a hard time trimming the excerpts to include here.

  3. It's just an act, I always tell myself. But Vila-Matas has a good act.

  4. Hey, I just noticed the Third Reich counters at the top of the blog! I would not want to guess how many times I played that game as a youth.

  5. Tom, at this point I like the ideas behind his books. I haven't finished Bartleby. A few pages into it and it's already a bibliophile's paradise. I must get in on the act soon. Re Third Reich: I liked the colors so I put it there, but never played it, don't know how to.