Manuel Rivas

Quote by Manuel Rivas.

Quote by Manuel Rivas.

Manuel Rivas is a Spanish writer considered one of the most prominent exponents of contemporary Galician literature. During his career he has dedicated himself to the elaboration of novels, essays and poetic works; what he himself calls "gender smuggling". Many of his books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and some have been adapted for film on various occasions.

Similarly, the Galician writer has stood out for his work in the journalistic field. This work has been reflected in its compilation: Journalism is a story (1994), which is used as a reference text in the main Faculties of Information Sciences in Spain.


The writer and journalist Manuel Rivas Barrós was born in La Curuña on October 24, 1957. He came from a humble family, his mother sold milk and his father worked as a bricklayer. Despite the vicissitudes, he managed to study at IES Monelos. Years later - while working as a journalist - he studied and obtained his degree in Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid.

Journalistic works

Rivas has had a long career as a journalist; He has dabbled in both the written media, as well as radio and television. At just 15 years old, he made his first job in the newspaper The Galician Ideal. In 1976, he entered the magazine Theme, a publication written in Galician.

His career in the Spanish magazine stands out Change 16, where he ended up being deputy director and in charge of the culture area of The balloon. As for its participation in the radio field, it reopened in 2003 -together with Xurxo Souto- Quack FM (La Curuña community radio). He currently works as a writer for the newspaper The country, work that he has been doing there since 1983.

Literary race

Rivas wrote his first poems in the 70s, which he published in the group's homonymous magazine Loya. Throughout his career as a poet has presented 9 poems and an anthology called: The town of the night (1997). Said book is complemented with a disc, in which he himself recites 12 of his compositions.

Similarly, the writer has ventured into the creation of novels with a total of 19 publications. His first work in this genre has the name of A million cows (1989), which contains stories and poems. With this work, Rivas achieved for the first time the award of the Galician Narrative Criticism.

During his career He has published several works that have given him notoriety, just like the collection of stories What do you want me, love? (1995) With this he managed to obtain the National Narrative Awards (1996) and Torrente Ballester (1995). Within this the collection is: The tongue of butterflies, short story adapted to film in 1999 and winner of the Goya award for best adapted screenplay in 2000.

Among his most relevant works we can mention: The Carpintero Pencil (1998) The lost flames (2002) Both of us (2003) Everything is silence (2010) y The low voices (2012). The last book presented by the author is Living without permission and other western stories (2018), which is composed of three short novels: The fear of hedgehogs, Living without permission y Sacred sea.

Best books by Manuel Rivas

What do you want me, love? (1997)

It is a book that is made up of 17 stories that describe various themes about human relationships, both traditional and current. In this play the journalistic spirit of the author is reflected, where love is the basis in all stories. This feeling is shown in different facets: from the platonic to the sad heartbreak.

Some of these stories have a happy and comic tone, but others touch stronger themes, reflections of current reality.  The people who star in these stories are common and simple, such as: a traveler, a milkmaid, a young musician, children and their best friends; each one with a particular appeal.

Among the stories, the following stand out: The tongue of butterflies, a story between an infant and his teacher, which is affected by the destruction of the 30s. This story was successfully adapted for the big screen by Antón Reixa. Finally, it should be noted that this compilation was translated into more than 30 languages ​​and allowed the author to be recognized in the literary world.

Reports of What do you want me, love? (1997):

  • "What do you want me, love?"
  • "The tongue of butterflies"
  • "A sax in the mist"
  • "Vermeer's milkmaid"
  • "Just out there"
  • "You will be very happy"
  • "Carmiña"
  • "The Mister & Iron Maiden"
  • "The immense cemetery of Havana"
  • "The girl in the pirate pants"
  • "Conga, Conga"
  • "Things"
  • "Cartoon"
  • "A white flower for bats"
  • "The light of the Yoko"
  • "The arrival of wisdom with time."

The Carpintero Pencil (2002)

It is a romantic novel that also shows the reality of the republican prisoners in the Santiago de Compostela jail, in 1936. The story is narrated in the first and third person by two main characters: Dr. Daniel Da Barca and Herbal. Also an important part of the plot: Marisa Mallo and the Painter - a prisoner who draws various scenes with a carpenter's pencil.


In this novel the love story between Dr. Daniel Da Barca —republican— and the young Marisa Mallo is presented. Da Barca is imprisoned for his political thoughts and actions. This complicates the relationship between the two, as they must fight for their love, their future marriage at a distance and the reality that the entire country lives.

On the other hand, there is the prisoner Herbal, who meets Da Barca in prison and becomes obsessed with him. This officer is a disturbed person, who enjoys torture and abuse, and has carried out many of the executions in prison.

The painter, for his part, stands out for his enormous pictorial talent. He drew the Pórtico de la Gloria, and there he made a representation of his harassed companions. The work was done with just a carpenter's pencil, which was taken from him by Herbal some time before executing it.

As the story goes on, the doctor is sentenced to death. Before his execution, he goes through a lot of mistreatment by Herbal, who tries to end his life before the sentence is completed. Despite adversity, he manages to survive and fulfill his desire to marry the love of his life. Years later, he gets his freedom and ends up going into exile in Latin America, from where he tells his part of the story in an interview.

The low voices (2012)

It is an autobiographical narrative of the experiences of the author and his sister María, from childhood to adulthood in La Curuña. La history is described in 22 short chapters, with titles that give a slight preamble to its content. In the novel, the protagonist shows his fears and different experiences to his family; many of these with a sad and nostalgic tone.


Manuel Rivas recounts the memories of his childhood with his family, with a special emphasis on Galician culture and landscapes. Many scenarios in his life are briefly described, with clear mixed feelings.

In the story María stands out - her dear sister-, whom she shows as a rebellious young woman with a marked character. She is heartily honored at the end of the play, as he died after suffering from a voracious cancer.

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