Editor Claudio López Lamadrid dies | Culture

Editor Claudio López Lamadrid dies | Culture


The editor Claudio López Lamadrid died yesterday Friday at 59 years in Barcelona after suffering a heart attack in the offices of the multinational Penguin Random House. López Lamadrid had become in the last two decades one of the great references of the Spanish edition on both sides of the Atlantic. His commitment to Latin American literature led him not only to follow the overwhelming impulse of a giant like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with whom he worked closely in his last years, but also to support the work of authors such as César Aira, Fogwill, Samantha Schweblin, Fernanda Melchor or Cristina Rivera Garza. He also accompanied the work of nobel as J. M. Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk or V. S. Naipaul.

He descended from families of Marquises, Comillas and Lamadrid, but he started in the sector from the lowest echelons, with only 17 years old: his uncle Antonio López Lamadrid, co-editor of Tusquets with Beatriz de Moura, He asked him one day to help him carry the heavy packages of books in what was the first move of the seal. Thus, as an accidental waiter, he started the trajectory of someone who a few years later would become one of the key names in the contemporary history of publishing in Spain, thanks to a 40-year career that was unexpectedly truncated yesterday.

"An editor must have passion, smell and know how to relate," he summarized. He had all three virtues. The first, fundamental, and came from those days of taxi packages and fight with the returns, in those days when booksellers still marked the prices with pencil inside, figures that he was responsible for deleting. Increasingly involved in the editorial and absorbing, as a good observer, the tasks of Beatriz de Moura, who also taught her secrets, sent him six months to Paris to continue his apprenticeship with another institution, Christian Bourgois.

At the end of the seventies, he was fully involved in editing and editorial writing, which he developed for a decade. Then, he decided that he should get away from the familiar shadow. He began a brief pilgrimage around the outskirts of the sector, as a literary critic and as a translator of authors such as Tom Spanbauer. It was for a short time: "I did not like it; neither my command of English was so much, nor the rigor of my reading the necessary, "he admitted years later, with his characteristic sincerity.

Claudio López Madrid, on the left, with James Ellroy.
Claudio López Madrid, on the left, with James Ellroy.

Proximity with the authors

Those temporary tasks of freelance, however, they took him to contact Círculo de Lectores, where, developing the literary project and the newly created seal of Galaxia Gutenberg, he ended up finding two pillars on which he sustained his trade: his place next to the writers and also editor and critic Ignacio Echevarría, who would become one of his great friends.

The eye of Gonzalo Pontón took him to Grijalbo Mondadori in 1997 to cover the march of Daniel Fernández. It arrived at the moment when the Italian group began to form the embryo of what it is today, after the entry of Bertelsmann, Penguin Random House. The Italian team was commanded by a hyperactive, sagacious and read manager, Riccardo Cavallero, with whom he would get along professionally and personally: "He has been one of my great mentors," admitted Lopez Lamadrid. With it he carried out his first great catalog: the one of Literature Mondadori, where, next to new values ​​of the North American novel of the change of century, would appear some names names of the new Latin American narrative that he consolidated, like César Aira.

I would never leave the multinational, the second largest in Spanish, but always worked with the ways and love of the office of the editors of the old school with which he started. "I felt true devotion for quality literature, something that was not easy in times like those for large groups. He was a very close man and had a very close relationship with their authors, "says Gustavo Guerrero, the Venezuelan responsible for the publications in Spanish of the emblematic French label Gallimard. "In that sense he was an editor from another time."

From an office with a myriad of books in piles not very well arranged and a slate of plaster scribbled or full of drawings, he served as the literary director of the whole group, where he demonstrated one of his great virtues: team management. He joined an unusual pragmatism in the sector, which led him on more than one occasion to dismiss the signing of a great name if he considered that this book did not have the level of his previous work. And to let some of those who already were in their catalog escape if they thought they would have better options in the competition. "In the same way that authors change editorial, publishers can change authors," he defended with his grave voice, which sometimes sounded a bit run over.

"I have neither serenity nor temper", he affirmed, denying his own motto in social networks, where he was very active from his first babbling; His series of selfies with writers, big or small, was almost legendary. He was an editor in the Anglo-Saxon sense, he polished the original with the author or the translator. It also helped that this work was anonymous, it left no trace and allowed him to be invisible, something he practiced both in his professional life and in private life. Father of two children, fruit of his first marriage, his last couple was the writer and screenwriter Ángeles González-Sinde, former Minister of Culture.

With an enviable nose for the opportunity, he ended up creating a catalog of glittering signatures, which included David Foster Wallace or, more recently and in the field of Spanish, in which he worked intensively the last 15 years, to: Emiliano Monge, Nona Fernández, Rodrigo Fresán, Javier Calvo, Alma Guillermoprieto, Elvira Navarro, Rafael Gumucio, Raúl Zurita, Sergio del Molino, Mercedes Cebrián or Patricio Pron. In recent times he assumed the mission of bringing Latin American literature to Spain. This led him to travel tirelessly through the continent from fair to fair, from festival to festival, always ready to participate in talks and debates. "Latin America is still the present of the edition in Spanish," he said a little over a year ago. He also knew how to incorporate (and even harder, maintain) Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, James Ellroy, Javier Cercas …

Lawyer in Law, notable music lover and parakeet (follower of Spanish) in football, said that his favorite Spanish writers were Juan Marsé, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio and Javier Marías. Over the years, the three had finished in their catalog, thanks also to the successive mergers of publishing houses such as Alfaguara, Lumen, Debate or Aguilar. "I have the best job in the world. To arrive one morning at your office and find a manuscript of Marsé is something unpayable, "he said. That can not be anymore.

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