The Island

The Island


'This is an old and wicked island. An island of Phoenicians and merchants, of bloodsuckers and frauds'

Expelled from her convent school for kicking the prioress, and abandoned by her father when her mother dies, rebellious teenager Matia is sent to live with her domineering grandmother on the scorching island of Mallorca. There she learns to scheme with her cousin Borja, and finds herself increasingly drawn to the strange outsider Manuel. But civil war has come to Spain, tearing communities apart, and it will teach Matia about the adult world in ways she could not foresee.

This feverish 1959 coming-of-age novel by one of the greatest Spanish writers of the 20th century depicts Mallorca as an inferno, a lost Eden and a Never Land combined, where ancient hatreds and present-day passions collide.

About the author

Ana María Matute

Born in Barcelona in 1925, Ana María Matute (d. 2014) began her career as a novelist in the late 1940s, quickly becoming established as one of the most significant literary voices of the Spanish post-war period. In spite of singularly harsh treatment by the Francoist censor - which described her as irreverent and immoral, banned her from engaging in journalistic activities, and forced her to alter or delay the publication of her writing for both adults and children - Matute's lyrical prose style and sensitive treatment of both conflict and childhood earned her both the Premio Nadal (for Primera memoria) and Spain's National Prize for Literature in 1959, a rare seat in the Real Academia Española in 1996, and the Spanish-speaking world's most coveted literary prize, the Premio Cervantes, in 2010. She is, to date, one of only four female authors to have received it.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more