Ángeles Mastretta was born on 9 October 1949, in Puebla, Mexico, where she lived until she was seventeen years old before moving to Mexico City. She is known for her novels, essays, and journalistic work. Mastretta’s writing often explores the lives of women and their struggles in a patriarchal society. 

Mastretta grew up in a family of journalists and writers and began her own career as a journalist in 1971, while she was studying at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She worked for various Mexican newspapers and magazines, including Excélsior, La Jornada, Proceso and Ovaciones. Mastretta also contributed to the feminist magazine Fem, where she wrote about women's issues and the struggle for gender equality.

In 1974 Mastretta received a scholarship from the Centro Mexicano de Escritores to participate in a literary workshop alongside writers such as Juan Rulfo and Salvador Elizondo. Later, from 1975 to 1977, Mastretta was director of Cultural Diffusion at the ENEP-Acatlán and from 1978 to 1982 of the Chopo Museum. In 1988 Mastretta co-hosted the talkshow La almohada with Germán Dehesa. Mastretta is also a member of the editorial board of Nexos magazine, of which her husband, writer Héctor Aguilar Camín, was director from 1983 to 1995, later reassuming the position at the end of 2008. She also contributes sporadically to foreign newspapers such as Die Welt (Germany) and El País (Spain).

Cover first edn. Ángeles Mastretta, Mujeres de ojos grandes
Cover of the first edition of Mujeres de ojos grandes

In 1985, Mastretta published her first novel, Arráncame la vida, which tells the story of a young woman named Catalina who falls in love with a powerful and abusive politician. The novel became a bestseller in Mexico and has been translated into several languages. In 1986 Arráncame la vida was awarded the Mazatlán Prize for Literature for Best Book of the Year. It was adapted into a successful movie in 2008.

In 1997 Mastretta published Mal de amores which tells the story of a woman named Delmira who falls deeply in love with a man named Daniel, but their relationship is plagued by societal and personal obstacles. Set in Mexico during the early 1900s, the novel explores themes of love, passion, betrayal, and the struggles of women during a time when they had limited agency in their lives. Mal de amores received critical acclaim and won the prestigious Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 1997, cementing Mastretta's place as one of Mexico's most influential contemporary writers.

Mastretta’s other novels include Puerto libre, El mundo iluminado, and Mujeres de ojos grandes. In Puerto libre, Mastretta explores the lives of a group of women who work in a factory on the Mexican border. El mundo iluminado is a semi-autobiographical novel that tells the story of a young woman who travels to Europe to find herself. Mujeres de ojos grandes is a collection of short stories that celebrate the strength and resilience of women. 

Compiled by Elena López (Barcelona)



Arráncame la vida (Mexico City: Seix Barral, 1985)

Mujeres de ojos grandes (Mexico City: ERA, 1985) 

Puerto libre (Mexico City: ERA, 1993)

Mal de amores (Mexico City: Planeta, 1997 [2009])

Ninguna eternidad como la mía (Mexico City: Seix Barral, 1999)

El cielo de los leones (Mexico City: Seix Barral, 2004)

El viento de las horas (Mexico City: Seix Barral, 2016)

Short Story Collections

Puerto libre, 29 textos breves (Mexico City: Cal y Arena, 1993) 

El mundo iluminado, 35 textos breves (Mexico City: Seix Barral, 1998)

Maridos (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 2007)


La pájara pinta (Mexico City: Diógenes, 1978)

Desvaríos (Mexico City: Cal y Arena, 1996)

Translations into Foreign Languages


Tear This Heart Out [Translation of Arráncame la vida by Lisa Dillman] (New York: Riverhead Books, 1997)

Lovesick [Translation of Mal de amores by Kathleen March] (New York: Riverhead Books, 1997)

Women with Big Eyes [Translation of Mujeres de ojos grandes by Betty Ferber] (New York: Riverhead Books, 1999)


Arrache-moi la vie [Translation of Arráncame la vida by Claude Fell] (Paris: Éditions Métailié, 2001)


Strappami la vita [Translation of Arráncame la vida by Lidia Lax] (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1988)

Donne dagli occhi grandi [Translation of Mujeres de ojos grandes by Lidia Lax] (Rome: Zanzibar, 1992)

Male d'amore [Translation of Mal de Amores by Lidia Laz] (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1996)

Il mondo illuminato [Translation of El mundo iluminado by Lidia Lax] (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2000)

Il cielo dei leoni [Translation of El cielo de los leones by Alessandra Scalero] (Florence: Giunti, 2004)

Mariti [Translation of Maridos by Alessandra Scalero] (Florence: Giunti, 2008)

L'emozione delle cose [Translation of La emoción de las cosas by Alessandra Scalero] (Florence: Giunti, 2013)


Apter-Cragnolino, Aída: ‘Jugando con el melodrama: género literario y mirada femenina en Arráncame la vida de Ángeles Mastretta’ (Confluencia: Revista Hispánica de Cultura y Literatura, 11.1, 1995, pp. 126-133)

Beer, Gabriella de: Escritoras mexicanas contemporáneas: cinco voces (San Diego: Fondo De Cultura Económica USA, 1999)

Brown, Meg: ‘The Allende/Mastretta Phenomenon in West Germany: When Opposite Cultures Attract’ (Confluencia: Revista Hispánica de Cultura y Literatura, 10.1, 1994, pp. 89-97)

Coria Sánchez, Salvador M.: Ángeles Mastretta y el feminismo en México (Mexico City: Plaza y Valdés Editores, 2010)

Lagos, Ramona: Metáforas de lo indecible: Gioconda Belli, Lucía Guerra y Ángeles Mastretta (Santiago: Ediciones Cuarto Propio, 2003)

Lavery, Jane Elizabeth: ‘Entrevista a Ángeles Mastretta: la escritura como juego erótico y multiplicidad textual’ (Anales de literatura hispanoamericana, 30, 2001, pp. 313-340)

—: Ángeles Mastretta. Textual Multiplicity (Woodbridge: Támesis, 2005) 

Lemaître, Monique: ‘La historia oficial frente al discurso de la ficción femenina en Arráncame la vida de Ángeles Mastretta’ (Revista Iberoamericana, 174.1, 1996, pp. 99-114)

Llarena, Alicia: ‘Arráncame la vida, de Ángeles Mastretta: el universo desde la intimidad’ (Revista Iberoamericana, 58, 1992, pp. 465-75)

Molina de Sevilla de Morelock, Ela: Ángeles Mastretta y la Mujer Nueva en Mal de Amores, en Relecturas y narraciones femeninas de la Revolución Mexicana: Campobello, Garro, Esquivel y Mastretta (Woodbridge: Támesis, 2013)

Mujica, Bárbara: ‘Ángeles Mastretta: Women of Will in Love and War’ (Revista Américas (OEA), 49.4, 1997) available online at https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Angeles+Mastretta%3A+women+of+will+in+love+and+war.-a019598964

Interviews/in the Media

Beer, Gabriella de: ‘Entre la aventura y el litigio: una entrevista con Ángeles Mastretta’ (Revista Nexos, 184, 1993, p. 36)

Halperin, Jorge: ‘Ángeles Mastretta. Morirse de la risa con el melodrama’ (Clarín, 12 August 1992, p. 5)

Hind, Emily: Entrevistas con quince autoras mexicanas (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2003)

Nepomuceno, Eric: ‘Ángeles Mastretta’ (Sangue Latino, Canal Brasil, TV Cultura e Urca Filmes, 2011) available online at https://www.gilbertogodoy.com.br/ler-post/angeles-mastretta---sangue-latino

Roffé, Reina: ‘Entrevista con Ángeles Mastretta’ (Cuadernos hispanoamericanos, 593, November 1999, pp. 77-90)

Telchman, Ron: ‘Con la precisión del arrebato’ (Revista Nexos, 112, 1987) available online at https://www.nexos.com.mx/?p=4748