By Javier Cercas, Spanish writer Co-presented with the Sydney Democracy Initiative University of Sydney, and the Instituto Cervantes in Sydney Javier Cercas is Spain’s most celebrated contemporary writer. He was born in Ibahernando, in central Spain, in 1962. Fascinated from a young age by the works of Jorge Luis Borges and determined to become a writer, Cercas studied Spanish literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. His haunting novel Soldiers of Salamis (2004) became a great success. Digging into the painful history of Spain’s Civil War through the gripping, death-defying story of fascist soldier Sanchez Mazas, Cercas uses irony, paradox and self-references to involve his readers in the creation of the novel, in this way encouraging them to ponder for themselves questions about the vital importance in a democracy of coming to terms with the past and the difficulty of deciding what is true, what is false and what cannot be remembered.