An anthology of 20 Christmas stories written by Ibero-American authors shows that the yuletide season remains "irresistible to everyone" and continues to be a great literary subject, the Argentine writer and journalist Monica Maristain, who compiled that collection, told Efe.

"It's an old project of mine. I wanted to show that the tradition of Christmas stories is still alive, whatever a lot of us might think about it," Maristain, author of "El Ultimo Arbol: Cuentos de Navidad" (The Last Tree: Tales of Christmas), published this year by Planeta, said.

The idea for the book originated in 2008 when Maristain had to "spend Christmas alone in Mexico," where she had lived since 2000, bedridden over the holidays with "a terrible case of flu."

She felt it would do her good to read some contemporary Christmas stories in bed to cheer herself up a little in her loneliness.

From then on "I began to ask writers for stories and I managed to collect 46," said Maristain, agreeably surprised that not one of the authors she contacted said they didn't have a Christmas story or didn't want to write one.

"Christmas is irresistible to everyone. It's incredible how strong it still is," Maristain said, adding that her book bears an undoubted relation to "A Christmas Carol," the British classic by Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

"Though contemporary tales don't usually have a moral or the redeeming magic that makes naughty kids nice and good kids better on the day Baby Jesus was born, they are nonetheless an irrefutable testimony that Christmas remains an excellent subject for stories," Maristain writes in the preface.

In the original Ibero-American anthology there are 20 stories by such writers as the Colombians Hector Abad Faciolince, Antonio Ungar and Sergio Gamboa, Spaniards Elvira Lindo and Jose Ovejero, and Peru's Santiago Roncagliolo.

Argentine authors make an appearance as well, including Andres Neuman, Federico Andahazi and Edgardo Cozarinsky, along with the Mexicans Ana Garcia Bergua, Alvaro Enrigue, Alberto Ruy-Sanchez, Francisco Hinojosa, Elmer Mendoza, and Pedro Angel Palou, among others.

Additional stories have been left for an eventual second volume and include works by authors like Nicaragua's Sergio Ramirez, along with Ana Clavel, Claudia Guillen and Eduardo Antonio Parra from Mexico.

In the coming days the anthology will also be in bookstores in Argentina and Colombia, the writer and journalist said.

Maristain is a correspondent for the German news agency DPA and has published several books including "La Ultima Entrevista a Roberto Bolaño y Otras Charlas con Grandes Autores" (The Last Interview with Roberto Bolaño and Other Talks with Great Authors) published in 2010.