- 24 Apr 17
Though unknown in his homeland, Irish writer Ian Gibson is celebrated in his adopted Spain, particularly for his books about the poet Lorca – widely known for being Leonard Cohen’s chief literary inspiration – and Salvador Dali. In a fascinating interview, Gibson discusses falling foul of the Franco regime, Dali’s wild hedonistic excesses, his role in getting corporal punishment banned in the UK, his interest in sadomasochism, Irish attitudes to sex – and why he both loves and despairs of Spain.
If you were to ask your average well-read Spaniard to name the most famous contemporary Irish writer you’d probably be surprised by the answer. Nine times out of ten, along with the usual suspects from the Irish literary world that are translated and revered in Spain – namely John Banville and Colm Tóibín – the name cited would be that of Ian Gibson.
Gibson accepts in this Hot Press interview that he’s an obscure figure back in his beloved homeland. However, in the Spanish-speaking world, Gibson is a serious player thanks to his award-winning books – most notably about the poet and playwright Frederic García Lorca, who Leonard Cohen credited as being the “greatest influence” on his own haunting lyrics.
The 77-year-old Dubliner originally started off teaching at Queens University and then at London University, before deciding to make a new life for himself in Spain. He broke through when his debut book about the murder of Lorca was banned by Franco, forcing Spaniards to smuggle copies in from France.