Almudena Grandes is one of Spain’s best known and acclaimed writers. Her elegant and lyrical prose has catapulted her to fame.
Almudena Grandes’ phrases express a great sensitivity towards everyday stories, towards the different nuances that can colour our way of experiencing emotions, and towards the way in which relationships change us.
The best of Almudena Grandes’ sentences
Below is a selection of text fragments, reflections and phrases from this writer.
1. They are not yet dead bodies and they are scared to death…
About the paradoxes of existence: breathing is not synonymous with living.
2. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, you know? But it takes even more courage to accept it.
About the burden that pride can be on us.
3. The mother superior repeated this every two or three times, the branches must be pulled out before they reach the trunk.
Bad habits must be stopped as soon as possible.
4. Omitting the truths is nothing but a refined variety of the lie.
Morally, knowingly withholding information is misrepresenting the truth.
5. Just a Spanish story, the kind that spoils everything.
One of Almudena Grandes’ phrases showing her tragic vision of the country.
6. The same love that made us loyal, that made us better, was spoiling everything.
Depending on the context, the same emotions can be constructive or destructive .
7. Many things happened that night, words, gestures, silences that he would remember all his life.
A sample of Almudena Grandes’ stylized prose.
8. (…) That sad smell, of moss and wet earth, which perfumes the buildings under construction.
About a very specific feeling.
9. Weird, aren’t they, your brothers-in-law? -Yes, they’re from Madrid. -That’s it.
A sample of his sense of humor.
10. It had been too much love, as much as I could give, more than was good for me. It was too much love. And then, nothing.
Looking back at an elation.
11. Therefore, we can only affirm with certainty that the whole is equal to the sum of the parts when the parts ignore each other.
Another reflection on how conflict and indifference to others destroys the social fabric.
12. A good writer can write about anything and can do literature on any subject and a bad writer does not have that ability.
A word of advice about this artistic side.
13. Time will put everything in its place, I will die and you will regret what you told me a moment ago, but until then I am not willing to lose you…
When emotions take precedence over rational and conscious analysis of things.
14. The earth revolved around itself and around the sun just below our naked and entwined bodies. Beyond that was everything else. Beyond was the winter, the ice, the slippery and dirty condition of an ugly, earthy, mud-stained snow, only half melted by the footprints of the people, many innocent and guilty people, loyal and treacherous, conscious or not of the wound their steps were opening in the icy sidewalks of the future of their children, their grandchildren, a guilty, desolate horizon, different from the clean landscape and shrewdly wrapped in a beautiful brightly colored paper that they would once believe to inherit.
A description passage that focuses more on sensations than on the material.
15. When I saw him sleeping next to you, I could only think of one thing; tomorrow maybe I won’t have him, tomorrow he will be gone, tomorrow I will be alone in this bed… Every minute weighed, every minute mattered, every minute expanded until it was projected into the limits of a small, personal eternity.
About the anticipated fear of loss .
16. What is it for? To understand how things happen. Is that not enough? To try to formulate rules that will ease the unbearable anguish of our existence in this miserable sliver of the unending immensity of the universe that is the world.
About the different ways we make the degree of uncertainty less.
17. I loved her so much that at that moment, while I felt that I had no ground under my feet and the emptiness was taking its toll in the centre of my stomach, a price much higher than the pleasure of all the vertigo, the certainty that I would never again feel disgust or shame when I remembered the luminous disproportion of her naked body, I managed to keep a strand of warmth in my heart numb with cold.
This fragment of text expresses an example of traditional romantic love, based largely on the unconditional nature of the bond.
18. What a savagery, what a horror of exile, and this horrible defeat that never ends, and destroys outside and inside, and erases the plans of the inner cities, and perverts the rules of love, and overflows the limits of hate to turn good and bad into one thing, ugly, and cold, and burning, immobile, what a horror this immobile life, this river that never ends, that never finds a sea to get lost in.
A text with great expressive power by this writer.
19. Joy had made me strong, because (…) it had taught me that there is no work, no effort, no guilt, no problems, no quarrels, not even mistakes that are not worth facing when the goal, in the end, is joy.
On the strength that the spirit of hard work confers.
20. Even though deserts bloom very slowly, grass sprouts earlier in the ground than in the eyes of those who contemplate it, and that is why time has to pass, a long time, so that someone will remember one fine day that apples do not grow in the ground, that apples necessarily fall from the trees.
Even where there seems to be only destruction, the seed of creation resides.
21. Then it would be she who would cry, she who would despair, she who would learn to pay for herself the true price of beautiful things.
The dialectic of suffering in relationships: it is not always the same person who loses the most.
22. I was still convinced that I had seen her there for the first time, Raquel Fernández Perea, without traps, without adornments, without excuses, perhaps a beauty more beautiful than her masks.
Almudena Grandes talks about an intimate look at the person beyond their imposture.
23. The difference between eroticism and pornography, apart from the etymological one, has to do with the attitude of the receiver of the message, has to do with the attitude of the reader.
In cultural products it is not only the product itself that matters, but also the expectations and role of the consumer.
24. The expectation of happiness is more intense than the happiness itself, but the pain of a consummated defeat always exceeds the intensity foreseen in its worst calculations.
A tragic asymmetry.
25. Since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I don’t remember myself wanting to be anything else, because since I was a little girl what I’ve enjoyed most in this life is reading.
An autobiographical note from this artist.
26. All I wanted was to grow old by her side, to see her face when I woke up every morning, to see her face a moment before I fell asleep every night, and to die before her.
Almudena describes here some romantic aspirations that are very common .
- You might be interested in: “How do your expectations influence your relationship?”
27. I think first novels are always strange because when you write your first book you don’t even know if you’re writing a book or a text that’s going to end up in a drawer.
About the experience of writing the first works in the world of literature
28. There was everything, and everything was good as long as a vague, universal excitement ran through the veins of the attendants like a bright, thick liquid, capable of making their blood brighter, thicker.
The description of a context of debauchery.
29. In order to write, you had to read first. Starting to write is a consequence of having read a lot, it’s like going through a mirror, like when Alice goes through a mirror. Reading and writing are speculative acts.
It is necessary to expand one’s cultural level to have something to say.
30. We had been happy walking on a tightrope, we had flourished in an infection of contradictions, we had found ourselves in a maze of paradoxes without ever looking at the ground, without ever looking at the sky, without ever looking.
About a situation where sensations reign and their intensity hides the need for planning.
31. Some image that I stumble upon, almost by accident, warns me that it has a story behind it. And what I do is think about these images that promise a story until I manage to find a way to open it, although this doesn’t always happen.
This fragment tells us about a very personal way of seeing patterns in apparently simple or chaotic information.
32. You have to write about what you know, about what you have near and about what you are interested in. Then what happens is the miracle of communication, which is based on the principle that all human beings are basically alike.
To really convey you have to talk about what has emotional implications for you.
33. All human beings are similar because they are vulgar creatures, very simple after all. And among the things they have in common, there is not only sex.
The personality of each individual imprints very relative differences between each of us.
34. Humans are beings who desire, and desperation takes away their own essence, dries them out, disembowels them, ruins them, and expels them from themselves along the temperate and deceptive path that leads to the destiny of things, to the weariness of dusty vegetables, of buried and inert minerals.
A reflection on the human condition.
35. We were all afraid, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, all very afraid.
There are situations where fear does not understand classes.
36. The last days of summer were very sad, so much so that Rachel felt that they were not returning, but leaving, that they were exiling themselves from the bougainvilleas and oleanders, from the orange and olive trees, from the smell of the sea and the boats in the port, from the whitewashed walls and the white houses, of the flowery windows and the shadow of the vines, of the gold of the oil, of the silver of the sardines, of the subtle mysteries of saffron and cinnamon, of their own language and colour, of the sun, of the light, of the blue, because for them to return was not to return home, because one could only return to Spain, even if no one ever dared to say that word.
A narrative fragment full of expression.
37. It has been a long time, you will say, and you will be right, but we all still carry the dust of dictatorship in our shoes, you too, even if you do not know it.
The psychological deposit left by certain historical traumas takes time to leave.
- You might be interested in, “What is trauma and how does it affect our lives?”
38. It’s the others you have to be afraid of, the ones who let you guess which way they’re looking. Those are the ones who always look in the opposite direction from what you imagine.
Uncertainty about the intentions of others can be a source of fear.
39. We all allow ourselves to be deceived at the same time, and not because we are stupid, but because good people are easy to deceive.
It is not possible to know everything, and therefore we manage our ignorance.
40. Education, education and education, they said; it was like a slogan, a slogan repeated many times, the magic formula to fix the world, to change things, to make people happy. They had lost everything, they had succeeded in working in positions that were far below their capacities, academies, bakeries, telephone exchanges, but that was all they had left. They always had that.
One point of view can lead to claiming only education, leaving other needs unmet.
41. Fear also excludes dignity, generosity, a sense of justice, and even harms the intelligence, because it alters the perception of reality and lengthens the shadows of all things. Cowardly people are even afraid of themselves.
Fear eliminates many human virtues.
42. Beauty is a monster, a bloody deity that must be appeased with constant sacrifices.
Aesthetics can become an obsession.
43. Then he thought that silence perhaps weighs more heavily on those who are silent than uncertainty on those who do not know.
Not being able to express yourself can be more painful than feeling ignorance .
44. Because there are famines much worse than having nothing to eat, weather conditions much more cruel than not having a roof under which to shelter, poverty more suffocating than life in a house without doors, without tiles or lamps. She didn’t know that, but I did.
A reflection on the cruel side of life.
45. Normally, when I write a novel or a collection of stories, I usually start from images: I walk down the street and every person I don’t know I value them as a character; every new situation, as a plot; every place I haven’t been to, I value as a setting.
A commentary on the creative process.
46. It’s funny how when someone writes an erotic novel everyone assumes that they have a tremendously intense [sex] life, and when someone writes murder novels no one assumes that they’ve killed their neighbor, nor is it assumed that a writer who writes science fiction has had contacts in the third phase.
The sense of humor applied to the way we perceive the relationship between art and artist.
47. Finishing a novel is a dramatic thing. The longer I take to write the endings, the more I suffer. Achieving the end of a novel has some pulse, because you’ve been able to do it. Finishing it is like being evicted from your home. I confess that one of the most terrible moments of my life is the day after finishing a novel.
Another of Almudena Grandes’ phrases about how she has lived her writing.
48. It was too much love. Too big, too complicated, too confusing, and risky, and fruitful, and painful. As much as I could give, more than was good for me. That’s why it broke. It didn’t run out, it didn’t end, it didn’t die, it just broke, it fell apart like a tower too high, like a gamble too high, like a hope too high.
Recapitulation of a love story .
49. He didn’t say anything, he just kept smiling. He put out his hand and turned the ignition key. The engine started. The windows were fogged up. Outside it must have been freezing, a curtain of steam was escaping from the hood. He leaned back against the seat, looked at me, and I realized that the world was falling apart, the world was falling apart for me.
Fragment of a passage full of feelings.
50. I sat on his knees. He put his arms around me and kissed me. The mere touch of her tongue affected my whole body. My back shook. He’s the reason for my life, I thought. It was an old thought already, hackneyed, formulated a hundred times in his absence, violently rejected in recent times, as poor, as petty and as pathetic.
Another of Almudena Grandes’ texts based on the romantic.
51. The maturity in my work is that now when I start a novel I know it one hundred percent. I have a notebook with the story resolved and the structure closed, I know how many chapters it has, what happens in each one and even how many pages it will have and until that moment I don’t sit down to write. But then there is an inherent emotion in writing, it’s an adventure and when you sit down to write it can happen, that what you have decided before is of no use to you.
A commentary on the writer’s artistic evolution.
52. The verb to believe is a special verb, the widest and narrowest of all verbs.
A sentence that invites reflection on one’s own expectations.
53. Not so long ago, in this same neighbourhood, happiness was also a way of resisting.
The portrait of a life linked to the local.
54. Mary Grace is also alone. She has also been married, she has not had children, she has also been abandoned by her partner, she has not found another one, she has also lived better, and she has never lived worse than now.
This text shows the lyrical style in which the writer portrays many of her characters.
55. When I started working, I was already tired, but that was an advantage and not a disadvantage. The routine of the house, the children, the parents’ meetings, the Christmas, carnival and end of year costumes, the appointments with the tutors, the vaccination schedule and everything else, exhausted her so much that the working days were not so similar.
A way to turn negative life situations around .
56. If I were younger I wouldn’t be so worried, because for crises, the ones I’ve had to suck myself, my son. But we could, we were strong, we were used to suffer, to emigrate, to fight.
About a life marked by struggle.
57. But we Spaniards, who for many centuries knew how to be poor with dignity, had never known how to be docile.
A look at the history of Spain.
58. Since nothing comes for free, the cognac has assigned it to another race. He now looks like a redskin; his face in general is red, particularly his cheekbones, which are full of broken veins that branch out day after day to conquer the base of his nose.
An original description.
59. For action is the enemy of reflection, and I could think no more.
A way to explain someone’s behavior from a duality.
60. We’re in a neighborhood in the center of Madrid. Its name does not matter, because it could be anyone among a few old neighborhoods, with venerable areas, others rather old. This one doesn’t have many monuments but it’s one of the beautiful ones, because it’s alive.
There is an aesthetic quality that goes beyond the material.
61. I knew it was not exactly so, that was not true, but the truth also disappeared, and I continued to think the same, and it was nice, I felt someone, safe, at times like that, it was curious.
Oblivion can lead to self-deception.
62. And I was lonely, I felt alone, unable to speak, which is perhaps the worst form of loneliness.
A reflection on loneliness .
63. To be a woman is to have the skin of a woman, two X chromosomes and the ability to conceive and feed the offspring that the male of the species produces. And nothing more, because everything else is culture.
About sexual differences.
64. Thirty years ago, children inherited poverty, but also the dignity of their parents, a way of being poor without feeling humiliated, without ceasing to be worthy and to fight for the future.
A nuance about the different ways to experience misery.
65. Self-pity is a very hard drug.
It can be addictive.
66. Immortal history does strange things when it crosses with the love of mortal bodies.
The contradiction between what is perpetual and what has an expiration date.