Isabel, posing in front of a plum tree, in Ealing, 2019
Isabel del Rio is a British-Spanish fiction writer, poet and linguist
Born in Madrid during the aftershocks of the Spanish Civil War, Isabel grew up in London and has lived here most of her life, becoming bilingual in the process. With the clash of her two languages and cultures she became a hybrid of both, though more a kind of a permanent outsider. She considers Spanish as her language of nostalgia, memory and exile; and English as her language of freedom, action and dissent. When someone suggested that she should give up one of her two languages to make her life as a writer easier, she decided that she would live and work with both, even at the expense of surrendering her identity. She never really identified with a particular culture anyway, she says, but only with Language itself. Thus, she embraced her bilingualism and turned to writing in two languages, as well as working as a professional linguist and journalist.
A committed storyteller or a deliverer of words arranged in poetic rows? She sees herself as both, depending on the subject that disturbs or captivates her. Most of all, she considers herself an emissary of dire tidings –because someone has to do it, she says. Her vision is noir and dystopian, and she claims that this is because her beginnings included darkly difficult experiences from which the only way out was the world of make-believe. She writes fiction about historical events and potential occurrences, poetry of both evocation and provocation, and memoirs bringing everything together. Her stories are indictments against injury and injustice, bearing witness to lives lived on the edge, through the haunting voices from the past and the bewildered voices yet to call out from the future. She goes for the kill in her writing, reaching dramatic and even melodramatic climaxes, preferring satire to solemn writing and anti-heroes to heroes. Her humour is grim, straight-faced and sometimes a little macabre; there is an undeniable plasticity to her writing because she firmly believes in the indissolubility of form and content; in fact, her texts might be more visual than the amateur photography she dabbles in. She likes dialogues most of all, from her years as a broadcaster; and from her many years as a linguist, she prefers a narrative that allows for multiple interpretations.
Isabel believes that you can write a story about almost any subject, and she does: from the plight of women through the centuries to bloodshed in its many forms; from a ritual killing in the Stone Age to the universal war that never ceases to erupt, regardless of time and place; from death in the bullring to death imposed by the Inquisition; from Don Quixote's romantic encounter to a day in the life of a palindromist; from Hell as your regular workplace, to Paradise as the name of a spaceship that manages to reach the outer limits of the universe. Her most iconic story is about the destruction of the world that exists inside a pencil, whilst a woman is writing on how our world finally comes to an end...
This website includes several of Isabel's published stories and poems in both English and Spanish to read, under the tabs 'Short Stories' and 'Poetry', as well as audio and video files under 'Recordings'.
All texts and images on this website are under copyright.