Andreu Martín and the Chinese Mafia in Barcelona

Coinciding with “Crime Novel Week”, La Vanguardia newspaper’s literary supplement “Culturas” presented a few crime novel authors from Barcelona whose stories take place there.  One of them, whose latest novel was celebrated and consequently appeared on the supplement’s best-seller list two weeks later, was Andreu Martín (Barcelona, 1949) with Societat Negra [Black Society]. In this novel, based on exhaustive research, Martín novelized the Chinese Mafia acting in a hairdresser’s and a wholesaler’s on Trafalgar street; even before a big money-laundering scandal among Chinese import wholesale traders made the news headlines and showed that reality often goes beyond an author’s. Lilian Neumann describes the novel in her review as a “very well structured” and a “decisive thrust” of an author “who like nobody else talks about losers and mucked ups  [?], who gives them language and gestures like nobody else does.”

Martín is a prolific author who besides crime novels also writes movie and TV scripts, plays, and children’s and juvenile literature. His works, as well as his Wikipedia article, still need to be translated into English.

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Primavera Prize for Use Lahoz

This year’s Primavera [Spring] book prize, awarded by the publishing house Espasa and the culture section of the El Corte Inglés [upscale department store chain] Foundation and endowed with 100,000 EUR, was given to Use Lahoz (Barcelona, 1976) for El año en que me enamoré de todas [The year when I fell in love with all of them], described by the jury as “original and brilliant” and that combines two intertwined stories narrated in a recognizable and personal style. Lahoz’ previous novels also won prizes: Los Baldrich (Talento FNAC 2009) and Estación perdida [Lost train station; Premio Ojo Crítico de Narrativa 2012]; his first novel, Leer del revés [Backhand reading], got a mentioning at the Chambèry Festival du Premier Roman. He is also a poet and contributes to newspapers (El País) and magazines.

Ramon Llull prize for Sílvia Soler

Sílvia Soler (Figueres, 1961) is the winner of this year’s Ramon Llull prize for an original novel in Catalan, awarded by the publishing behemoth Planeta; the Ramon Llull prize is endowed with 60.000 EUR (- the Planeta, awarded by the same publisher, for a work in Spanish, with 600.000,- EUR). The winning novel is entitled L’estiu que comença [The summer that begins] and will be published on March 7, and it will also be translated into Spanish and French [together with Catalan official languages in Andorra, that co-financed the prize in the past].

The novel starts with two young women that are friends, and pregnant at the same time; and who think about the possible relations their respective offspring will have in the future. This occurs in 1961, and the author follows the offspring, a girl, Júlia Reig, and a boy, Andreu Balart, over the next 50 years. The plot is set in a fictional small village on the coast, where the two families are closely observed and the villagers remember a tragedy of the past; and real events, like the Summer Olympics of 1992 or a bomb attack by ETA on a hypermarket in Barcelona in 1987, appear in the background of the story. The author defines her novel as a “summer book”, because both protagonists keep a tradition of celebrating the start of the summer together (St. John’s night; 24 June – celebrated with bonfires and firecrackers). The prize jury stressed the optimism conveyed by the novel; an attitude hard to come by in crisis ridden Catalonia and Spain.

Amazon offers one of Sílvia Soler’s novels in English, Look me in the Eye.

[Part of the information of this post was taken from an article by Montserrat Serra, published on vilaweb on Feb. 1]