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Cervantes winner Ana Maria Matute dies at 88

matute [1]Prize-winning novelist Ana Maria Matute, who spent a literary lifetime exploring the crushed innocence of her childhood during the Spanish Civil War, died on Wednesday of a heart attack, her son told Reuters.

She was 88 years old and lived in Barcelona.

Her novels spanning the 1940s to the 1960s depicted the devastation of rural, war-tornSpain [2]¬†from a child’s perspective.

In her 1959 novel “School of the Sun”, a girl named Maria comes of age while the war divides her family and her town on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, with a doll named Gorogo her sole confidant.

Maria’s gradual abandonment of the doll and of fairy tales, and her friendship with a boy who is ostracised in the village, mark her transition to adulthood.

Decades later, when Matute won Spain’s highest literary award, the Cervantes – she was the third woman to receive the honour – she spoke of her own Gorogo, a doll her father brought her from London when she was five, who became her only friend.

“I take it on all my trips and I still tell it what I can’t tell anybody,” she said in her acceptance speech in 2010.

Matute and other writers scarred by the 1936-1939 war – Juan Goytisolo, Ignacio Aldecoa, Carmen Martin Gaite and Carmen Laforet – were dubbed the generation of the frightened children.

“You know how horrible it is to be 11, and go from being a little middle-class girl … to finding yourself in a world divided, even brothers were divided … Going through a war with atrocities, discovering the ugliest things in life,” she said.

Born in Barcelona, northeast Spain [2], on July 26, 1925, Matute was one of five children. Her father owned an umbrella factory.

She almost died of a kidney infection when she was five years old. Aged 8, she was sent to live with her grandparents in a small town, Mansilla de la Sierra. Later, she attended a religious school in Madrid.

Continue reading in Reuters [3]