Julia Navarro is one of Spain’s most widely recognized authors. With a background as a journalist, Navarro has sold millions of copies of her nonfiction and fiction titles around the world, and her books are available in more than 30 countries. After writing several books on politics, she published her first novel, La Hermandad de la Sábana Santa (The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud), in 2010, which stayed at the top of the bestseller charts in Spain for months. La Biblia de barro (The Bible of Clay) and La sangre de los inocentes (The Blood of the Innocent) strengthened her prestige among critics and the public. Soon after writing those books, she published Dime quién soy (Tell Me Who I Am) and Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto (Shoot Me, I’m Already Dead), both works of historical fiction. Some of Navarro’s books in Spanish have been published in the U.S. by Vintage Español, and the English translations have been released by Bantam.
Her latest novel, Historia de un canalla (Story of a Sociopath), explores the human condition and reflects the ambition, greed, and selfishness of human beings. It is a modern and cosmopolitan novel set in New York and London with a couple of brief forays into Spain. The plot’s backdrop is the world of communication and politics, and it explores the codependent relationship between journalism and politics. Navarro spoke about Historia de un canalla, which was released in March in a Spanish-language edition, during her visit to New York.
This is by far the most psychological novel you have written. How helpful was your experience as a political journalist in understanding the mind-set of politicians and those who crave power?
What you read, live, and hear are all helpful elements when writing a book. I have worked as a political journalist and in political communications for 35 years, and these experiences helped me tremendously in developing the characters for this novel.
Do you think we are going through a period when societies, specifically European and North American ones, are obsessed with the issue of political power?
Political power is part of world history and the human condition, which is nothing new. However, technology and in particular social media is changing how power is communicated. People now use social media to influence others, not just in politics but in everything.
In Spain it was said that this novel is one of the most anticipated books of 2016. What do you feel when you hear that?
Responsibility—a deep sense of responsibility. I have worked on this novel for three years, but now it’s time for the readers to judge it. As a writer, you are always judged by your latest work. It feels a bit like having vertigo. I am now getting ready for a book tour that includes Spain, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Panama, Peru, and the U.S. Due to the financial crisis in Spain, the Latin American and U.S. markets are very important. Since my first novel, I have worked a great deal in forging a path for my books in Latin America—readers there are very consistent. The U.S. market in English is rather complicated, but I am happy that most of my books have been translated and are available in the U.S. As for the U.S. Hispanic market, I hope readers will enjoy my latest book. It is a shame that many Hispanics don’t read in Spanish—it is a heritage for them to enjoy.