The major Spanish literary agent Carmen Balcells, 85, died Monday in Barcelona, El Pais reported first. Director at the Carmen Balcells Literary Agency Gloria Gutierrez tells the NYT that she died of a heart attack. As El Pais writes, “Balcells was much more than a literary agent for the authors. She was not just the person who negotiated contracts with publishers, translations and literary awards, but was a confidant and a counselor, who was always there. In some cases, she came to advance money so they could write in peace.” Her passing leaves unclear the future of the Carmen Balcells Literary Agency.
The memorandum of understanding with The Wylie Agency trumpeted in May 2014 to create a separate, new successor entity to the Balcells agency “under joint management” with Wylie was never executed (confirmed by the NYT), and last month Wylie hired Cristobal Pera to start up The Wylie Agency Espana. That will lead to speculation about a scramble by others to take over representation of the major estates of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Clarice Lispector, Pablo Neruda and others, along with working writers on the agency’s list including Isabel Allende and Mario Vargas Llosa. He writes in El Pais: “She was much more than an agent or representative of the authors who had the privilege of being with her. She took care of us, she spoiled us, she quarreled with us, she yanked our ears, and she filled us with understanding and kindness in everything we did, not only in our writing.”