Carlos Ruiz Zafón (September 25, 1964 – June 19, 2020) was a Spanish novelist.
Although not very prolific in comparison with most authors of his level, having published only eight books before his death, Zafón went down in history as the most widely published contemporary Spanish writer, with fans hailing from 45 countries and speaking 40 languages. A bona fide reader and writer, who was just 14 years old when he first tried to publish a 500-page novel that disturbed editors, Zafón built some fame in The '90s with his young adult work Trilogy of Mist before making the jump to fame with the 2001 novel The Shadow of the Wind, after which he prologued the story in a loosely-connected tetralogy named The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which remains as his last and main work.
Prematurely deceased in 2020, Zafón left an unique mark in the Spanish literary landscape with his signature writing style, based on snarky narrators, dreamlike stories, highly evocative visuals, and tons of historical memory of his beloved Barcelona. He named as main inspirations 19th century classics, crime novels and noir fiction.
- Trilogy of Mist
- The Prince of Mist (1993)
- The Midnight Palace (1994)
- The Watcher in the Shadows (1995)
- Marina (1999)
- The Cemetery of Forgotten Books
- The Shadow of the Wind (2001)
- The Angel's Game (2008)
- The Prisoner of Heaven (2011)
- The Labyrinth of Spirits (2016)
- The City of Vapor (2020, posthumous) - Recompilation of short stories
Tropes found in his work
- Creator Provincialism: From Marina onwards, all of their long stories were set in Barcelona, generally in a period around mid-20th century.
- First-Person Smartass: Whenever he wrote in first person, it was guaranteed to be one of those, with minimal variations in the tone depending on the protagonist's age.
- Nested Story: A trademark of his. All of their works, from the first to the last, feature a main plot and at least one more story that happened years earlier, generally told through flashbacks, letters, testimonies and the like, which has some connection to the current events.
- Power Born of Madness: The villain Lahawaj is explicitly powered by this, and even Julián, who doesn't perform overtly supernatural stunts like him, does show some slightly superhuman abilities.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Subtlely done, but always present when there are teenaged protagonists around. Ironically, in two of those occasions the act is made with prostitutes.