Even though she has lived in Barcelona from the 1960s onward, the literary world of her early work as an author concentrates on the Pallars county of her childhood and adolescence, a rural surrounding observed by a critical eye. Her first novel, Pedra de tartera [‘Stone from a boulder’], fully set in that space, was praised by the public and critics alike. Her first novel has been translated into English as Stone in a Landslide. Later works take up more urban environments. She also is the author of short stories, juvenile novels, and a theatre play.
Barbal’s work has been translated into Asturian, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. Her literary achievements got her the Creu de Sant Jordi, i.e. Cross of Saint George, the highest medal awarded by the Catalan government.