I was born at the tail end of 1958, in London. I taught myself Catalan in 1978, and moved to Barcelona in 1984. For years I had been trying to find my written voice in English, to no avail, so when a Catalan publisher asked me if I could do something for him in Catalan, I reckoned I had nothing to lose and gave it a try. From the very first sentence onward, all the problems I’d been having with British English fell away: I had found my written voice, in Catalan.
The text written at the suggestion of the Catalan publisher, ‘Viatge a Romania’ (Trip to Romania’) came out in 1990 and as it got good reactions, I decided – perhaps not too wisely – to cut myself out of the English loop altogether. I published two novels in Catalan; and also a collection of short stories, an autobiography, a road book, and several diatribes and personal essays, all of these in Catalan and Catalan only.
As this went on, I got occasional work in TV and radio. (For example, among other things, I presented and scripted two series of an infotainment programme for Catalan Public Television (TV3) back in 2005/2006).
Then, gradually, all my original ideas for fiction in English started coming back to me and in 2005 I started a novel that cried out to be written in English: and this time round, I had the same feeling of simultaneous freedom and control that I’d experienced when first writing in Catalan: in other words, I’d finally found my written voice in my native language.
The result took six years to write and is now on sale as an e-book and paperback: the novel ‘Snug’ (in whose website, of course, you now find yourself).
It’s about a tiny village in the Isle of Wight which finds itself being besieged by Africans who have gone there for that very purpose. Things that have been on my mind for thirty years or more have now finally made their appearance in fiction: racism, anti-Semitism, the colonial legacy (it’s still there, should anyone wish to take a look) and teenage love.
I am now writing another novel in English.
Otherwise, I currently have a regular Sunday column in a Catalan language newspaper (El Punt Avui), a monthly column in the English language magazine Catalonia Today, and contribute occasionally to Barcelona INK (a literary magazine here in Barcelona) and the Times Literary Supplement.
For what it’s worth, the five main influences would be: William Burroughs, Henry Miller, Bohumil Hrabal, Thomas Bernhard and Quim Monzó.
I am also a long-term reader of Holocaust history and literature.
My published books – which can be looked at in more detail at http://www.matthewtree.cat/index.php?seccio=bibliografia&idioma=eng – are:
‘Fora de lloc‘, Cafè Central-EUMO, Barcelona, 1996. Novel. Two editions.
‘Ella ve quan vol‘. Edicions 3i4, Valencia; Premi Octubre de Narrativa Award 1999. Short stories. Two editions.
‘CAT. Un anglès viatja per Catalunya per veure si existeix‘. Ed. Columna, Barcelona, 2000. A subjective chronicle of a journey round Catalonia. Seven editions.
‘Privilegiat’, Ed. Columna, Barcelona; won the Columna Award 2001. Novel. Two editions. Also published in Spanish as ‘Privilegiado’, Muntaner Editors, Barcelona, 2001. (For a review of this translation, done from the English, see the Times Literary Supplement, April 26, 2002). Extracts from the English version (‘Private Country’), were published in The Dalhousie Review (Canada) and The Edinburgh Review (Scotland).
‘Memòries! 1974-1989. Dels quinze anys fins als trenta. Londres-Barcelona.’ Ed. Columna, Barcelona 2004. Autobiography. Two editions.
‘Contra la monarquia’. Ed. Ara Llibres, Barcelona 2004. Anti-monarchical diatribe. Two editions.
‘Aniversari. Quatre reflexions sense cap mena d’importància després de passar exactament vint anys entre els catalans.’. Ed. Columna, Barcelona 2005. Essay. Two editions.
‘La puta feina’. Ara Llibres, Barcelona 2006. Diatribe about incompetent, heartless or downright malevolent bosses and companies. Two editions.
‘La vida després de Déu’, Ara Llibres, Barcelona 2007. An in-depth and personal attack on all organised religion. Three editions
‘Negre de merda. El racisme explicat als blancs’, Columna, 2010. A personal essay on racism.
‘Barcelona, Catalonia, A View From The Inside’. Cookwood Press (Massachussetts) 2011. A selection of articles and talks published previously in English language publications.
And its Catalan translation: ‘Com explicar aquest país als estrangers’ (Columna, 2011. Three editions).
‘Jordi Arbonès – Matthew Tree’, Punctum, Lleida, Catalonia, 2013. The correspondence between the Catalan-to-English literary translator Jordi Arbonès and Matthew Tree.
‘SNUG‘. AK Digital, 2013. A 450 page novel written exclusively in English. Extracts were published in the Barcelona-based literary magazine ‘Barcelona INK’. This is a professionally produced, promotional edition published by the Antonia Kerrigan Literary Agency with a view to attracting the attention of both readers and publishers.
For five years I was a member of the successful Germans Miranda (‘Miranda Brothers’) writers’ collective and contributed a story to each of their six books. which have been on the themes of sex, football, politics and love: ‘Aaaaaaagh‘ (1998); ‘El Barça o la vida‘ (1999); ‘Tocats d’amor‘ (2000); ‘Contes per a nenes dolentes‘ (2001), ‘La vida sexual dels germans M‘ (2002), ‘Adéu, Pujol!’ (2003. All published by Columna (Barcelona).
I have also contributed long non-fiction pieces to two books about Barcelona: Què fas aquest diumenge?’ ed. La Magrana, Barcelona, 2002, and ‘Barcelona Acròstic’ (a text also published in English and Spanish), Ed. Destino/Barcelona City Council, Barcelona, 2002. I contributed a short story to the collection ‘Contes coordinats’ (Ed. Montflorit, Barcelona 2006) proceeds from which go directly to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Barcelona. Another short story as published in the collection ‘Contes per parlar’ (Ed. Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2006). The children’s story ‘Berta, la ben educada’, was published in the collection ‘L’hora del conte’ (La Galera, Barcelona, 2006), proceeds from which go to a Barcelona children’s hospital.
I am a current contributor to the following publications: Catalonia Today magazine, the El Punt Avui newspaper (in which have a regular Sunday column), the Times Literary Supplement and the literary magazine in English ‘Barcelona INK’.
I have regular monthly spots on Catalunya Ràdio. In 2006 and 2007, I scripted and presented two series of ‘Passatgers’, an infotainment programme which was shown on TV3 (Catalan Public Television).
Over the last fifteen years I have given numerous public readings of my work in dozens of venues around Catalonia, as well as in Valencia, Palma de Majorca, Madrid, Cork, London, and Palo Alto.
I have also translated works or samples of works by various Catalan language writers, including Màrius Serra, Jordi Puntí, Carme Riera, Maria Barbal and Toni Sala, as well as three complete novels by Monika Zgustová: ‘Goya’s Glass’ (The Feminist Press, NY, 2012); ‘Fresh Mint With Lemon‘ and ‘The Silent Woman’ (The Feminist Press, NY, 2013).
There is also a page on Wikipedia:
I can (easily) be contacted through the Antonia Kerrigan Literary Agency: