Gabriela Ybarra (b. Bilbao, 1983) made a splash on the Iberian literary scene in 2015 with the publication of her debut novel, El comensal, an autofictional account of her mother’s battle with cancer interlaced with her grandfather Javier de Ybarra y Bergé’s kidnap and assassination by ETA in 1977. Rooted in the legacy of the Basque conflict, the novel is a poignant exploration of universal themes such as presence/absence, silence, grief, suffering, intergenerational trauma and (post)memory, its narrative interspersed with actual historical documents such as press articles and photographs. El comensal was awarded the Euskadi Literature Prize (Premio Euskadi de Literatura), the highest accolade in Basque Letters. The 2018 English translation by Natasha Wimmer, entitled The Dinner Guest, was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. In 2022, reflecting the extent of its cultural impact, the novel was adapted into a film directed by Ángeles González Sinde.
Ybarra studied Business Administration and Management at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and obtained a Masters in Marketing from New York University. She currently resides in Madrid, where she works in social media analysis and marketing. She has written for El País, ABC, El Mundo and Revista Eñe.
Compiled by Catherine Barbour (Dublin)
El comensal (Barcelona: Cabello de Troya, 2016)
‘Gabriela Ybarra’ in 10 de 30: Nueva narrativa española 2020 (Madrid: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, 2020, pp. 36-49)
El comensal, dir. Ángeles González Sinde (2016)
Translations into Foreign Languages
The Dinner Guest [translation of El comensal by Natasha Wimmer] (London: Harvill Secker, 2018)
Il Commensale [translation of El comensal by Maria Concetta Marzullo] (Naples: Alessandro Polidoro Editore, 2019)
Billard, Marion: ‘El comensal de Gabriela Ybarra: le creux mémoriel comme lieu de (re)construction du passé’ (Amnis, 18, 2019)
Jiménez Torres, David: ‘El espacio de las heridas: Violencia, afectos y contexto en Patria y El comensal’ (Bulletin of Spanish Studies: Hispanic Studies and Researches on Spain, Portugal, and Latin America 96 (7), 2019, pp. 1077-1094)