Rafael Chirbes, already regarded as one of Spain’s best contemporary writers— especially after the publication of the celebrated Crematorio—began his career twenty years ago with Mimoun, a magnificent and unsettling first novel, which gained excellent reviews upon publication. For example, Álvaro Pombo wrote that: "It’s always exciting to greet a new writer. In this short book, Rafael Chirbes has managed to invent a voice and a world full of a writer’s subjectivity governed by an emotional perception of a landscape that the narrator contemplates for hours, while the smell of burnt earth invades the interior of his house…”

A Spanish teacher arrives in Morocco with the vague notion of finishing a novel. He goes to live in Mimoun, a town in the Atlas mountains, and there he becomes embroiled in a strange web of relations in which the characters move, slip up and disappear like billiard balls into a pocket.

For Manuel, the narrator and protagonist, Francisco, Hassan, Aixa, Rachida and Charpent are enigmatic beings upon whom he projects his own concerns. But it is Charpent, a mysterious exile, who, in a self-destructive moment, offers Manuel the most exact description of his own destiny, summarized in the words of Rilke: "Oh, Lord, let everyone choose their own death."
The Morocco of Mimoun is not exotic; it is a hostile and worrying place where the characters struggle to find the strength to survive. Written in a contained style, more suggestive than obvious, this novel is, at the same time, a tense and passionate story that does not attempt to hide its cathartic pretensions. Twenty years after the first edition, Mimoun, Rafael Chirbes’ first novel, which was an instant success with critics and readers, still shines as a literary jewel of outstanding beauty.

SERIESNarrativas hispánicas


  • Germany (Wagenbach)
  • France (Rivages)
  • UK (Serpent's Tail)
Rafael Chirbes

Rafael Chirbes

Rafael Chirbes (Tabernes de Valldigna 1949 – Beniarneig, Spain, 2015) studied Modern and Contemporary History in Madrid. He worked as a literary critic and wrote for a travel magazine for some years. His novel La larga marcha was awarded in Germany with the SWR/Die Bestenliste Prize. Among many other awards, with Crematorio (2007) and En la orilla (2014) he obtained the Critics Prize, and with En la orilla also the National Prize for Narrative.

A tribute to Rafael Chirbes by Valerie Miles.