Markus Orths: Catalina

Sir Walter Scott Award, Golden Laurels for Best Historical Novel in 2006

Markus Orths


320pp (74,000 words)

English sample translation (pdf)

Could a girl born in seventeenth century Spain ever become anything other than what is expected of her? Could she become, of all things, a man? One extraordinary woman could, and did.

CATALINA is the true story of Catalina de Erauso, born in San Sebastian on a glorious day of sun and rain. Her brother Miguel, ten years her senior and fiercely loved by Catalina, is sent to the New World to see to the family’s fortunes. When Miguel takes his leave from his family forever and sets out for the silver mines of Potosi, the richest town in South America, Catalina has only one wish: to follow him.
As a girl, she is separated from him forever. As a girl, she must accept her fate passively – but she does not. She begins her obsessive quest by pretending religious devotion so as to earn her education as a nun. And then, one day, she leaves the convent. She cuts her hair. She dresses in men’s clothing. She deepens her voice. She becomes Francisco. And her new identity, crafted in darkness and determination, is internalized so much that she convinces not only everyone around her—including her lovers—but eventually even herself. Her path leads her from San Sebastian to New Spain, Chile and Peru and is the breathtaking and extraordinary true story of a despairing quest for the other – and for one's self.

Markus Orths, author of the bestseller LEHRERZIMMER, is at the peak of his story-telling talent with CATALINA: an extremely exciting and absorbing major novel.

»Markus Orths puts gender, role, call and identity to the tests and in doing so, he masters the full spectrum of literary form. (...) Comically grotesque, subtly perceptive, or factually reporting, Markus Orths is a narrator of impressive style, a language artist. A lot more is to be expected from this fine writer.«
Lower Rhine Literature Award, the Jury

Rights sold

Previously published (rights reverted)
Portugal – Difel
Israel - Toby Publishing
Italy - Piemme
Lithuania – Mintis
Serbia – Laguna
The Netherlands – A.W. Bruna/Signature
US (English World) – The Toby Press
paperback - Random House/Goldmann
Bulgaria - Lettera
Spain (Castilian World) - Salamandra

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»Gripping and fast-paced. Orths’ narrative force and style are reminiscent of Isabel Allende, creating a literary world that has us hooked until the very last page.«

»Markus Orths once more proves himself a brilliant narrator. Sit back and enjoy this enthralling story told with passion and talent.«

»Catalina is as much at home in the 17th century as in contemporary society. She stands exemplary for the modern woman embracing any challenge life throws at her, against all odds, using her new male identity to turn the rules of society upside down.«
Frankfurter Rundschau

»Full of verve, one punchline following the next, Markus Orths proves himself as a clever storyteller - who cares for his heroine and her destiny.«
Berliner Zeitung

»A search for identity combined with a love story plus a whole epoch of European colonial history – a brilliant historical novel.«

»Passionate, gripping, revealing a mature literary talent.«
die tageszeitung

»Orths’ language radiates clarity, style and subtle irony. A breath-taking experience that leaves the reader enriched and wiser than before. A sensational story!«
Nürnberger Nachrichten

»CATALINA is a literary biography based on stunning yet authentic facts. A true page-turner, supremely well-written, weaving history and fiction, legend and fantasy into an unforgettable reading experience.«

»An unforgettable reading experience. Most striking about this novel is its literary brilliance, its vehemence, its verve and spirit that stands unequaled among contemporary German literature.«
Neues Deutschland

»Orths knows how to fuse narrative talent with intellectual depth. What more to expect of a novel?«
Badische Neueste Nachrichten

»A marvellous story. Orths brings Catalina to live.«
Sächsische Zeitung

»An enthralling psychological portrait and a highly enjoyable novel, set in the Spain of inquisitors and conquistadors.«
Die Presse

»Orths is a brilliant storyteller, effortlessly moving through space and time.«
Kieler Nachrichten

Reviews from abroad

»A fascinating subject and fine storytelling merge in this novel of a Spanish gender-bender.«
Kirkus Review (starred as a »book of unusual merit«)

»In a fast-moving and highly readable narrative Markus Orths reinvents the story of Catalina, a woman who chose her own identity and transformed the course of her life. Combining vivid historical detail with writing reminiscent of the magical realist tradition, Orths has produced a highly unusual novel about an extraordinary life.«
New Books in German

More titles by Markus Orths

Markus Orths: CorpusMarkus Orths: Who Walks Where Behind the Coffin?Markus Orths: The ChambermaidMarkus Orths: The Staff RoomMarkus Orths: Escape AttemptsMarkus Orths: FigmentsMarkus Orths: The Magic CapMarkus Orths: Enough`s EnoughMarkus Orths: Alpha & Omega