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Carlos Ruiz Zafón, best-selling author of Barcelona historical fiction novels, dies at 55

The Shadow of the Wind sold millions of copies and established him as Catalonia’s most popular novelist worldwide


19 June 2020 12:06 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the masterful author of The Shadow of the Wind and other best-selling novels set in Barcelona, has died at the age of 55.

The writer died in Los Angeles, where he resided, from cancer that was first detected two years ago.

Born in Barcelona in 1964, he became one of Catalonia’s most well-known authors at an international level. His books have been translated into more than 50 languages.

Ruiz Zafón made a name for himself with El Príncipe de la Niebla (The Prince of Mist), originally published in Spanish in 1993 and translated into English in 2010. He subsequently published other novels for young adults, such as El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las luces de septiembre (1995), and Marina (1999).

But it was La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind) that made a breakthrough in his literary career, selling millions of copies worldwide, winning several international awards, and establishing Ruiz Zafón as Catalonia’s most popular writer worldwide.

  • "It's ok for books to be books"

    Carlos Ruiz Zafón · Author

The book takes place in a fictional mausoleum for out-of-print books that at risk of being forgotten, located in Barcelona’s old quarters. The Shadow of the Wind would eventually become the first volume in The Cemetery of Lost Books’ tetralogy, followed by The Angel’s GameThe Prisoner of Heaven, and The Labyrinth of Spirits, all of which also became best-sellers by their own right.

From 1994, Zafón resided in Los Angeles with his family, where he worked writing scripts for Hollywood movies.

Despite his close links with the film industry, he refused several offers to bring his most famous novel to the big screen.

"Not everything has to be made into a movie, a TV series, or a videogame", he said during the presentation of the tetralogy’s third volume in Barcelona. "It’s ok for books to be books. And I think that nothing can tell a story, communicate a world or certain characters with the richness, complexity, and depth of novels."


  • Author Carlos Ruiz Zafón (By Editorial Planeta)

  • Author Carlos Ruiz Zafón (By Editorial Planeta)