Belén Gopegui is a contemporary Spanish novelist who is considered by many, Francisco Umbral among them, as one of the best novelists of her generation. She has also written a number of scripts, some of which have been adapted for the big screen. Her narrative works are a great place to start if you are interesting in learning about Spanish society.
Belén Ruiz de Gopegui, who writes under the name Belén Gopegui, was born in the city of Madrid in 1963 as the daughter of the aerospace scientist, Luis Ruiz de Gopegui. Belén chose to study in Madrid at the Autonomous University of Madrid where she studied for her degree in Law, but before she even finished her studies, she had already decided that what she truly wanted to be was a writer. Once she finished her degree, Belén Gopegui began her career by collaborating in the literary sections of a number of publications, including 'El Sol', for which she carried out interviews.
She continued working in this manner up until the publication of her first novel, La escala de los mapas, in 1993. This novel was published by Anagrama and was met with great success, winning the Tigre Juan and the Ibero-American Santiago del Nuevo Extremo Prizes.
The second novel by Belén Gopegui, Tocarnos la cara, was published in 1995, again to great acclaim from both the public and the critics. Three years later, she published her third novel La conquista del aire, which was later adapted for the cinema by Gerardo Herrero, under the title Las razones de mis amigos. After this, along with Ángeles González Sinde, she began her career as a script writer. The pair wrote the script for La suerte dormida, while Gopegui alone wrote the script for El principio de Arquímedes, directed by Gerardo Herrero in 2004.
In 2004, El lado frío de la almohada was published. This novel deals with the relationship between a diplomat from the US located in Madrid and mediator in a deal between the security agents of Cuba and his counterpart Laura Bahía, a young Spanish agent with a Cuban background.
The year 2005 marked Belén Gopegui's first and only trip into the theatrical genre with her work Coloquio in the choral book Cuba 2005, a book whose ideological stance in defense of the Cuban Revolution was clearly made. Two years later, she published another novel with the publishing house Anagrama, entitled El padre de Blancanieves. Gopegui wrote several works to do with Cuba and the revolution in the country, which she supports due to her communist ideology.
Deseo de ser punk appeared in 2009, a novel which tells the story of the non-conformity related to being a teenager through the voice of a young girl called Martina, using rock music as both a backdrop and a major part of the story. It is here that she shows some ties to the other writers of her generation, who tended to write about these types of issues with greater frequency. A year after its publication, the novel won Gopegui the VII Dulce Chacón Spanish Narrative Prize.
More recently, in 2011, Belén Gopegui released Acceso no autorizado with the publisher, Mondadori. This novel was a political-technology thriller that has a hacker and a government vice-president as the main characters who establish themselves in the digital world via social and personal networks.
Among just some of the elements of her works, Belén Gopegui has been praised for the maturity of her prose and literary approach, her very original narrative structures, the brilliance of her metaphors, through which she shows a more than superficial understanding of the world, her scientific vocabulary, and her intimate and poetic character.
It is often said that Gopegui's novels offer a reflective view of the world. In fact, her third novel, La conquista del aire (1998), was described by Care Santos as showing a lucid and critical look on contemporary society, told by one of the best, if not the best, writers of her generation.
The contemporary Spanish novel work of Belén Gopegui therefore makes a great starting place for all of those issues that are related to modern day society, as well as literary, social and cultural question about the western world. Her work is therefore a great introduction to Spain.