Antonio Muñoz Molina was born in the city of Úbeda on January 10, 1956, in the attic of a house that his parents rented when they married, “the room of the beam”, as he himself remembers. His mother was a housewife and his father worked in the garden and sold vegetables in the food market of Úbeda, perhaps from there, the references to the vegetable gardens of Mágina.
This writer completed his elementary baccalaureate at the “Santo Domingo Sabio” Salesian school and his upper baccalaureate at the “San Juan de la Cruz” High School Institute, both in Úbeda.
After completing these studies, he moved to Madrid to study journalism at the Complutense University and become the author of plays of political upheaval, but he did not finish this degree and went to Granada, where he completed a degree in Art History, although he never discarded the idea of becoming a journalist and writer, and regularly published articles in various local media.
He Lived in Granada working as an administrative assistant official in the City Council, while collaborating as a columnist in El Ideal and in the Diario de Granada and writing his first stories. In 1985 he published his first novel, Beatus Ille, which won the Icarus Award, followed by Winter in Lisbon (1987), Critics’ Award and National Award for Literature in 1988. After this literary and editorial success, he moved to Madrid and in 1991 he was awarded the Planeta Award for The Polish Horseman, and was awarded the National Narrative Award the following year.
He taught as a visiting professor of Spanish literature in some universities in the United States and in 1995 he became the youngest member to be elected by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) to occupy the u (lowercase u) chair. Also in 2004 he was appointed director of the Instituto Cervantes in New York, where he had resided for some years and where he will return frequently in successive years.
Among the many recognitions he received, it is worth highlighting his investiture as Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Jaén in 2007, and, especially, obtaining the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in 2013.
The connection between Antonio Muñoz Molina and Jaén is not only due to the fact that he is a native of Úbeda, but also because he uses Úbeda as a literary resource to frame some of his works as a “model of the city” which he calls “Mágina” and although it cannot be identified exactly with it, many of the spaces, situations, experiences and characters coincide with his native Úbeda. The author names this imaginary city “Magina” in honor of the mountainous massif that, in his childhood and adolescence, he could glimpse on the horizon from the viewpoints of Úbeda.
“Rather than a landscape, Mágina looks like a model of the city, a scale model of the ephemeral world in which most of the people live their lives” (…).
Antonio Muñoz Molina. Article “Between Úbeda and Mágina”.1996
Although he evokes Magina with greater or lesser emphasis in other novels and articles (Beltenebros, The Owner del Secreto, Warrior Zeal, Sefarad or Mysteries of Madrid), it is in three novels where Magina is overwhelmingly present and where the plot is recreated of them: his first novel Beatus Ille, The Polish Horseman and Full Moon. It is in them where we can identify some of the places in Úbeda that Antonio Muñoz Molina has transferred to Mágina: the Clock Square, the statue of General Orduña, the House of Towers …
Literary production of Antonio Muñoz Molina
According to professor Irene Andrés-Suárez in “Ethics and Aesthetics of Antonio Muñoz Molina” (1997), three well-defined stages are perceived throughout the author’s career. A first stage where his novels are especially nourished by music, literature and films; a second stage where he delves into his personal and collective memory; and a third stage more committed to the surrounding reality.
The following are the main works of the author:
- The Urban Robinson, 1984 (Icarus Award, 1986)
- – Beatus Ille, 1986 – Diario del Nautilus, 1986
– Winter in Lisbon, 1987 (Critics Award, 1988 and National Award for Literature, 1988
- The Other lives, 1988
– Beltenebros, 1989
– Córdoba de los Omeyas, 1991
– The Polish Horseman, 1991 (Planeta Award, 1991 and National Literature Award, 1992)
– The Mysteries of Madrid, 1992
– Nothing fancy, 1993
– The Reality of Fiction, 1993
– The Owner of the Secret, 1994
– Why is literature not useful? 1994
– Warrior Zeal, 1995
– Appearances, 1995
– The Garden of Eden, 1996
– Written in an instant, 1996
– Full Moon, 1997 Prix Fémina, 1998
– Pure joy, 1998
– Carlota Fainberg, 1999
– Sefarad, 2001
– Without Blanca, 2001
– Life Ahead, 2002– Manhattan Windows, 2004
– The Wind of the Moon, 2006
– Everyday, 2007
– The Night of Times, 2010
– Nothing fancy, 2011
– The audacity to look, 2012
– All that was solid, 2013
– Like a passing shadow, 2014
– The lighthouse at the end of Hudson, 2015
– A lonely walk among the people, 2018 – Your steps on the stairs, 2019