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, the novel by Manuel Vilas that won the 2023 Nadal Award (already in bookstores, edited by Destino), has two radical twists.

The first is a twist in the plot, more or less obvious to any reader:


begins as a very sweet bolero but ends at a specific moment in a ghost story


The second twist is more complex and gradual: Vilas, at first, writes in favor of love.

But, after 360 pages, the feeling that remains is the opposite, it is that



against love


Or, at least, against what love has of reverie, of tyranny, of indifference to the world.

To know more


Manuel Vilas wins the Nadal Award three years after the Planet

  • Drafting: LUIS ALEMANYMadrid

Manuel Vilas wins the Nadal Award three years after the Planet

Planet Award Finalist.

Manuel Vilas: "I want a modern country where there are no fires in the streets"

  • Writing: LETICIA BLANCOBarcelona

Manuel Vilas: "I want a modern country where there are no fires in the streets"



is a song to personal identity beyond love," explains Vilas.

«The protagonist is a woman in love with a man who, at the end of her life, sees that those others in which she has wanted to build herself vanish, that we are all going to die alone.

That is the adventure of any human being


All of us are born as a self that, when we grow up, becomes a problem that we can only solve in the form of a we... But, at the end of life, in illness and death, we stop living in the us and we are alone again.

So, you have to discover love for yourself as a source of pleasure.

The novel is also the exploration of the relationship between love and pleasure.

We'll be back with pleasure.


, which takes its title from the song by Los Panchos, is the story of Irene, a well-educated and well-to-do woman, the recent widow of Marce, the man with whom she has lived 20 years in absolute love.

Marce and Irene never stopped living in the world of brand new lovers, the one in which vulgarity does not exist

, in which it does not matter to pay crazy bills in restaurants or lose friends, because who needs savings and friends when they fall in love? ?

What else does the ugliness of the world matter?

Until the disease arrives.

Marce dies and Irene, to ease her grief, goes by train to Malaga, settles in a room with sea views,

takes a lover and feels that, at the moment of orgasm, that man becomes Marce's spirit.


Inspired by this revelation, Irene rents a convertible, travels the Mediterranean, from Andalusia to Nice, looks for the best hotels, the best lovers and the best pleasures and communicates with her love through them.

«The word pleasure is taboo, it still arouses suspicion in us.

People choose to talk about 'I like it'

, rather than pleasure”, says Vilas.

Sure: because pleasure is always elusive and ephemeral and ends up being a source of pain, right?

“Partly yes, and partly because it is too central to our existence.

Human life is governed by the pursuit of pleasure.

His Irene is an idealist of pleasure who decides to live exclusively in it, in the most refined but also in the most brutal.

For Irene, joy and pain are

adjoining rooms that look out over the same sea

and communicate through a secret door.

She lives in a world of suites and first class trips, but she also rejoices in the memory of Marce's agony, in

the days when she cleaned up his vomit and diapers


«Let's think of a perfect love: 20 years without loss of joy or eroticism... If we take it to the limit, we would have to turn agony into something erotic.

If he spits blood, she worships blood, she decides to have a sensual relationship with blood, with her decrepitude.

It is a poetic idea:

I will love you even in your destruction


Obviously, in real life we ​​are not capable of taking our love to that point: People, if they can, hire someone.

But we do all feel that cleaning up a sick parent is an experience that dignifies us."

And the ghosts?


The ghost is the experience


We have birthdays, we see people we love die and we live with their ghosts.

I still talk to my father and mother."

And, in the same way, when making love, lovers converse secretly with the lovers they have lost, as is the case with Irene.

«Of course a lover remembers his previous lovers.

He won't say it, of course, and the person he sleeps with, who will feel the same way, won't either.

But that's what we have novels for, to say the unspeakable.

Vilas explains that his Irene comes from

A woman under the influence

, from

Amor a quemarropa

, from Fellini and from the classic 19th century trio:

Bovary, Karenina, Ana Ozores


What does it extend or refute about that tradition?

«Irene brings the luxury brands: the Cartier watch, the BMW, the Alfa Romeo, the Maseratti... Irene is love under 21st century capitalism, just as Bovary was the 19th century version.

Shakira has seen it very well;

It is the brands that express how we live love in



Irene sleeps with someone and looks at the watch she is wearing, guesses its price.

I like to portray that reality, not judge it, because we have a very hypocritical relationship with capitalism.

We criticize it in public and enjoy its pleasures in private."

«My challenge», Vilas ends, «was to create the intimacy of a woman.

Desire, for example... I have asked a lot but there

are always areas that are not well verbalized


On the other hand, I know that under capitalism, men and women are almost the same.

Consumerism equalizes us if we have a credit card.

I don't know if I have achieved that intimacy but it has been worth it.

If I did not succeed, it will have been a beautiful defeat ».

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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