He writing of Enrique Vila-Matas is marked by a dazzling array of quota-tion, plagiarism, frames, self-plagiarism, digressions and meta-digressions: an intense and witty textual delirium that has made him one of the most original and celebrated writers in the Spanish language. Born in Barcelona in 1948, he published his first novel—a single, sternly uninterrupted sentence—in 1973. Continuing his fidelity to the myth of the avant-garde writer, he then moved to Paris, living in a garret rented from Marguerite Duras, before returning to Barcelona, where he spent the next decade publishing novels, a story collection, and literary essays. It was with his sixth book, however, A Brief History of Portable Literature (1985, translation 2015). The book poses as a history of a secret society of twentieth-century artists and writers, including Duchamp, Walter Benjamin, Kafka, and others. Its reckless linking of real names to imaginary quotations and vice versa, its mingling of fiction with history, made him notorious—and represented a new moment in European fiction. Reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts—that was the book’s basic proposition, and its implications and complications are what Vila-Matas has continued to explore in wildly deconstructive novels like Bartleby & Co. (2000, 2007), Montano’s Malady (2002, 2007), and Never Any End to Paris (2003, 2011), as well as in critical fictions that include Chet Baker piensa en su arte (Chet Baker thinks about his art) (2011), The Illogic of Kassel (2014, 2015), and Marienbad électrique (Electric Marienbad) (2015). Vila-Matas has won many grand awards (the Premio Rómulo Gallegos, the Premio Herralde, the Premio Leteo, the Prix Médicis, the Premio Formentor, The Premio de la Fil de Guadalajara among others), but in person he is modest and generous, always solicitous toward younger generations —I first met him a few years ago through our mutual friends Alejandro Zambra and Valeria Luiselli. He dresses with elegant reserve, a disguise for a mischievous, fantastical soul. We conducted this interview over two prolonged sessions in Barcelona last summer and fall, speaking in a mixture of French and Spanish while his agent, Mònica Martín, offered interpretive aid and sometimes joined in the conversation. This polyglot mix-ture was transcribed, edited, then retranslated into Spanish and rewritten by Vila-Matas before being definitively translated into English. Its multi-lingual, multilayered history seems an accurate analogue to Vila-Matas’s polymorphous style. According to the terms of Vila-Matas’s thinking, the real can only fully acquire a luminous existence when inserted into a prior network of words— even, for instance, a conversation. Both sessions of our interview took place in the gardens of the Hotel Alma in Barcelona. Vila-Matas chose the location partly for its peacefulness—but really, he observed, because it was where he set the final exchanges of his most recent novel, Esta bruma insensata (This senseless haze) (2019). The two conversations, one fictional, one real, could therefore gradually infiltrate each other—this was his hope—and reach their own separate level of truth. After our final session, before we headed off for coffee at the Europa Café on Diagonal, Vila-Matas invited me over to his apartment and showed me his small writing room, the bookshelves of which were filled with works by his beloved authors—Beckett, Kafka, Tabucchi, Duras, Joyce, Walser, and friends like Rodrigo Fresán and Roberto Bolaño. That space, I began to think, was the visual form of Vila-Matas’s literary philosophy—fragile, futuristic, and infinitely valuable: an idea of writing as a singular, patient process that can absorb and create the hyper world outside it.