Xirinacs, Olga

Xirinacs, Olga
b. 1936, Tarragona
   Writer
   Active in the cultural life of her native city, the prolific Catalan Xirinacs has won many prestigious prizes for her poetry, among them the Carles Riba for Llavis que dansen (Dancing Lips) (1987) and for her prose, including both the Crítica and the Sant Jordi for Al meu cap una llosa (A Gravestone at my Head) (1985). In this latter novel, she pays tribute to Virginia Woolf, one of her favourite writers. Xirinac's themes are often philosophical, exploring such topics as the nature of evil and the creative process. Much of her verse is love poetry, sometimes with an erudite literary base, with quotations from other poets, ranging from Virgil to Giuseppi Ungaretti. Xirinacs is a piano teacher and has studied painting; these aesthetic activities inform her work and are occasionally reflected in titles such as Interior amb difunts (Interior with Deceased) (1983) and Música de cambra (Chamber Music) (1982). The latter is written in the form of a lyrical diary covering three years (1979–81) with reflections on the past and projections to the future that greatly expand the time period evoked. Tempesta d'hivern (Winter Storm) (1990) relies on music for theme as well as imagery: a successful orchestra director returns home after a long absence to find ghosts from the past. The description of her triumphant concert is impeccable.
   The protagonist of Enterments lleugers (Light Burials) (1991) is a house, in the sort of subgenre used by writers such as Latin America's García Márquez and Allende, and Catalonia's own Rodoreda. The wall referred to in the title La muralla (The Wall) (1993) is the Roman wall of Tarragona; this long poem is a monument to her historic birthplace and its inhabitants. Sense malícia (Without Malice) (1994) is a chilling psychological study of a violent young boy, who "examines" the suffering of his victims while showing a polite, sweet demeanour to the world. Based on the newspaper story of an aristocratic double suicide, Cerimònia privada (Private Ceremony) (1993) uses wedding guests turned funeral mour-ners to reflect on meanings and motivations. The novel opens with a quotation from Peter Handke and includes references to Peter Pan. Xirinacs" latest work, Sucant el melindro (Dipping the Pastry) (1996), is a collection of realistic, ironic, and tender stories written originally for the Barcelona daily paper Avui. The sea and death are often present in the work of this versatile author. She has also written literature for children, and some of her work has been translated into Russian, German, English and Spanish.
   KATHLEEN McNERNEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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