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Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of The Shadow of the Wind, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 55, from cancer. His best-selling historical novels served as an entry into Barcelona and into its culture for millions, and the announcement of his death led to recognition from all sectors of Catalan and Spanish society.

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it." Ruiz Zafon's Spanish publisher, Planeta, farewelled him with one of the most celebrated - and appropriate - quotes from The Shadow of the Wind, his breakthrough best-seller, set in a mysterious fictionalised Barcelona of the middle 20th century. Said Planeta: "Today, Carlos Ruiz Zafon has died, one of the best contemporary novelists. We will always remember you, Carlos!"  

Born in Barcelona in 1964 into a family with no connection to literature, he attended the Sant Ignasi de Sarrià school and then enrolled in an Information Science degree, before entering the advertising sector and then consecrating himself in literature. His first literary adventures were in youth fiction. His first novel, The Prince of Mist, won the Edebé literary prize in 1993, which allowed him to travel to Los Angeles, where he settled and where he died today at the age of 55.

carlos ruiz zafon
Editorial Planeta

 

In the United States, Ruiz Zafón began working as a screenwriter, but kept up his novel projects. During this first stage he published two more works for young adults The Midnight Palace and The Watcher in the Shadows that made up a first trilogy, published originally in Spanish but later in English. A further youth novel, Marina, was added to this before the end of the 1990s.

In 2001, he made his debut as an author for adults and achieved consecration as one of the best-selling authors of literature in Spanish. It was the insistence of Catalan writer Terenci Moix that convinced Barcelona's Planeta to publish La Sombra del Viento, his epic story set in Barcelona which was a tribute to the power of the imagination and reading. A providential decision, because although it was not an immediate success, 10 million copies have been sold and it has been translated into several languages.

The Shadow of the Wind together with the novels that followed it, The Angel's Game, The Prisoner of Heaven and The Labyrinth of Spirits made up a four-novel cycle - "The cemetery of forgotten books" series, centred on a magical space linked to books and literature, around which the action of his novels revolves.

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