As the world celebrates International Women´s Day, the Spanish government’s decision to rename Atocha station to that of the author, Almudena Grandes, has not gone down too well with another woman – Madrid regional premier, Isabel Díaz Ayuso.
Ayuso made it clear that she did not agree; when asked about the decision to rename the Atocha station to that of the left-wing writer, she replied that “the Virgin of Atocha was already a woman”.
The mainline station, which is the busiest in Spain and the site of terrorist bombings in 2004, is to be renamed after the novelist as part of the Socialist government´s plan to rename Spain’s railway stations after celebrated women and show greater acknowledgment of women in public places throughout the country.
Raquel Sánchez, the transport minister, said the idea was to give women whose achievements have not been sufficiently recognised more visibility: “We deserve a Spain that recognises its women.”
Grandes, who died in November 2021, was one of the country´s most lauded modern writers. She rose to fame with her first novel, The Ages of Lulu, that drew on her experiences growing up in Madrid in the 1980s during the Movida Madrileña, which saw an explosion of artistic creativity following the death of Franco and restoration of democracy.
Her 2017 novel The Patients of Dr Garcia won the National Literature Prize for Narrative and she received numerous other awards.
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez called her “one of the most important writers of our time.”
However some commentators have pointed out that as a writer with a notable left-wing leaning, she would have been an unlikely name to be championed by the right-wing and very conservative Ayuso.
Ayuso, pointedly didn’t acknowledge Grandes’s death.
The author was later given a posthumous title of a “favourite daughter of Madrid” by the city council.
It is not the first time that Isabel Díaz Ayuso has spoken of the Virgin of Atocha, some months ago she claimed her parents wanted to call her that – they opted instead for Isabel Natividad.
Puerta de Atocha Station will be called Puerta de Atocha Almudena Grandes Station.