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Obituaries / Passings

Francisco Umbral, 72; writer and influential Spanish columnist

August 29, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Francisco Umbral, 72, a prolific writer who was an acerbic observer of his contemporary Spain, died Tuesday of respiratory and heart failure at a Madrid hospital.

Umbral produced essays, literary criticism and linguistics studies, plus often biting political and social commentary in newspapers.

Often described as one of the foremost writers of 20th century Spanish prose, Umbral was noted for his baroque language, sense of humor and irony.

Born Francisco Perez Martinez in 1935 in Madrid, he spent his early years in Valladolid, Spain. An avid reader, he began his career as a journalist in Valladolid at the local Norte de Castilla newspaper.

In 1961 he returned to Madrid as a correspondent and became a prestigious reporter with Spain's most influential magazines and newspapers. For the last 15 years, he wrote a daily column in the newspaper El Mundo.

He was awarded Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize in 1996 and the Cervantes Prize in 2000.

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