Manuel Vázquez Montalbán was born on June 14, 1939, in a poor neighborhood of Barcelona, shortly after Francisco Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War. His father, an opponent of Franco, was arrested and sentenced to death when he returned from exile for the birth of his son; this verdict was commuted to a twenty-year sentence in prison, of which he served five years.
During his years at the University of Barcelona, Vázquez Montalbán participated in leftist student organizations and, after transferring to the School of Journalism, joined the Catalan branch of the Spanish Communist Party. After getting married and working as a journalist, he was fired because he did not have the right party affiliation; in 1962 he was arrested for participating in an anti-Franco demonstration in support of striking miners and sentenced to three years in jail, of which he served some eighteen months. During his time in prison, Vázquez Montalbán began to write and to develop his theory of subnormal literature. In the 1960’s he worked as an editor for the Larousse encyclopedia and published his first collections of poetry.
In 1969 Vázquez Montalbán became a lecturer in the School of Journalism at the University of Barcelona and published his first collection of short stories. The following year, he published his Manifesto subnormal (subnormal manifesto), which stands at the beginning of what critics have called his subnormal period,...
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