La lección de anatomía

The Anatomy Lesson

La lección de anatomía

A woman strips naked, so that others can observe her. They measure her. Her body is the text on which her biography is transcribed. Her right hand is bigger than her left, because it is the hand that grabs, writes, caresses. Before, her grandmother smacks her behind. She goes to school and develops a competitive heart. She swims like a fish. She desperately loves her mother and saves her from an unexpected fire. She becomes friends with lots of women and girls and of the cheekiest boy. To seduce others, she uses her body as if it belonged to someone else. She drinks, smokes, gets ill and learns to fear her students. She marries. She works form 8 am until 8 pm. She lies and tells the truth. Just like almost everyone. She stays quiet. She demands the right to stop pleasing. The right to slowness.

«The best aspect of this book is the ease with which Marta Sanz becomes a character within it. What also stands out is its brutal honesty» (ABC).

«Marta Sanz may have become, in an instant (the very same instant that one opens the first page of this book—which has an incisive prologue by Rafael Chirbes on fine form–) in one of those writers in which the refuge of literature takes the shape of a golden cage from which we observe the convulsive world outside... An essential book» (Sergio Sancor, Libros y Literatura).

«Marta Sanz, without doubt one of the most important voices on the scene... (has written) one of the most naked, honest and combative works of the last few years. And, as a ribbon on the gift, there is a foreword by the great Rafael Chirbes, who doesn’t confine himself to going through the motions, but instead becomes involved in a full analysis of the book to produce some lucid and revealing comments full of pure narrative skill and a series of reflections that are never superficial» (Tino Pertierra, La Nueva España).

«The intensity and clarity of the impressions (…) the sentiments and memories that only the person who has experienced them can apply a powerful lens that converts the picture into a radiography where the important things are the shades, the small details, the tiny facts (…) There is nothing here that is stunningly new, but there is a very personal vision of the world» (Ricardo Senabre, El Cultural).

«A study of Spanish life and especially of the women of tose generations that underwent a social transformation and had to form new family ties and face new social, educational, sexual, professional and political realities» (Revista Leer).

«Sanz carries out her own autopsy, but a living one, and without falling into complacency, towards herself, or anyone else...» (Carmen Sigüenza, EFE).

«Marta Sanz writes an exercise in self-analysis, displaying all her imperfections, confusions, and a confession of inappropriate behaviour» (David Bercerra Mayor, Rebelión).

«The torrential style of Sanz presents memory as something common, without saving on crudeness or eschatology, because, like a body, this book breathes, sweats, burps (…) Avoiding the petulance that author attributes to the genre of memoir, this book isn’t a novel or a collection of very short stories, or an autobiography (…) it’s everything at the same time» (Elena Medel, Calle 20).

«Marta Sanz constructs a symbolic portrait of the rejection of the autobiographical form” » (Santos Sanz Villanueva, Mercurio).

«Marta Sanz narrates with a sober and powerful style a book that is persuasive, avoids empty rhetoric and is full of expressiveness» (La Tormenta en un vaso).

«If we accept the concurrence between what we look like and who we really are, La lección de anatomía constitutes a splendid self-portrait with just the right amount of irony and a notable aptitude for anecdotal narration» (D. Ródenas de Moya, Ínsula 756K).

You can read an excerpt in English in here.


  • Italy (Nutrimenti)
Marta Sanz

Marta Sanz

Marta Sanz has a PHD in Spanish Philology. She has published the novels El frío, Lenguas muertas, Los mejores tiempos (Premio Ojo Crítico 2001), Animales domésticos, Susana y los viejos (runner-up for the Nadal  Prize in 2006), Lección de anatomía (2008), and in Anagrama, Black, Black, Black, Un buen detective no se casa jamás, Daniela Astor y la caja negra and Farándula (Herralde Novel Prize 2015). She has contributed various short stories to collections and has published  El canon de la normalidad, a selection of her own stories.  In 2007, she published Metalingüísticos y sentimentales, an anthology of contemporary Spanish poetry and, the same year, she received the Premio Vargas Llosa NH Story Award. She is also the author of the poetry collections Perra mentirosa and Hardcore, both in 2010. She frequently contributes  to the Babelia cultural supplement of the El País newspaper.