Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation

Maggie O’Farrell in conversation with Begoña Gómez Urzaiz

March 26

Sunday, 18:30h



Casa del Lector
Auditorio Casa del Lector

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere

After distancing herself from the contemporary fiction and indeed the non-fiction of her early books, it is in the past that Maggie O'Farrell has found the material with which to tell the stories that really interest her. First with the highly acclaimed Hamnet (Libros del Asteroide, 2021) in which she set her sights on William Shakespeare's son, who died at the age of 11, and then in The Marriage Portrait (Libros del Asteroide, 2023), which revolves around Lucrezia de Medici, the Duchess of Ferrara, who died in 1561, at the age of 15. Rarely does her descriptive, free-flowing and luminous writing allow the reader's mind to wander, which makes her not only an author who has earned critical acclaim, but also one able to captivate readers of all kinds. Although her creative process entails exhaustive documentation, it always remains subordinate to the story, as the Argentinian author Mariana Enríquez points out: “What makes O'Farrell's novels so interesting is her ability to constantly change tack or to take the most unexpected angle; although her style is lyrical and delicate, it can be direct and heart-rending if necessary; her attention to detail is the product of an obvious depth of research that is nevertheless conveyed with great naturalness on the page”.

Maggie O’Farrell (Coleraine, Northern Ireland, 1972) is the author of Hamnet (Libros del Asteroide, 2021), winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020, and of the memoir I Am, I Am, I Am (Libros del Asteroide, 2019), both Sunday Times  bestsellers. Her other novels include After You’d Gone (Tinder Press, 2000) The Distance Between Us (Headline, 2005), which won the Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox (Salamandra, 2007), The Hand That First Held Mine (Libros del Asteroide, 2010), which won the Costa de Novela Award in 2010, Instructions For A Heatwave (Salamandra, 2013) and This Must Be the Place (Libros del Asteroide, 2016). Her latest book, The Marriage Portrait (Libros del Asteroide, 2023), has been translated into more than 25 languages. She has also written two books for children and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Begoña Gómez Urzaiz (Tarragona, 1980) is a journalist and writer. She is a regular contributor to such media as El País, La Vanguardia, RTVE and RAC1. She has published The Ones that Abandon (Las abandonadoras) (Destino, 2022), a personal essay on motherhood, creation and guilt. She has also coordinated the collective book The Neo-rancid. Against the Perils of Nostalgia (Neorrancios. Contra los peligros de la nostalgia) (Península, 2022). She is a member of the teaching staff for the UAB’s master’s degree in Literary Journalism.

With the collaboration of Libros del Asteroide and the British Council


Maggie O'Farrell (c) Murdo Macleod 2017
In collaboration with
Main Festival Collaborator
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