Sergio Vila-Sanjuán, Nadal prize 2013

Author: Sergio Vila-Sanjuán (Barcelona, 1957), studied history, obtained an MA at Boston University, works as a culture journalist and writer; Wikipedia article (in Catalan)

Title: Estaba en el aire [It was in the Air] (Destino, 240 pages, 19,50 EUR)

Argument: The plot takes places in Barcelona between 1960 and 1962 and moves around a radio program called Rinomicina le busca [Rinomicina looks out for you], that promoted a popular pharmac of that epoch, and that wanted to help those who had been separated from a loved one. Most of these disappearances had taken place during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), a fact that disturbs the Franco regime and that finally leads to the shutdown of the radio station. It shows the conflict between a new type of entrepreneurs and the old guard of the regime, and especially the paradox of the journalist who cannot fully comply with his obligations. The focal point is the upper-class but due to the disappearances personalities of other social strata make their way into the novel. “Everybody of these personalities has got a complex history of social, emotional and moral conflicts. This way, there is spun a very rich, but perfectly controlled, plot. For some the reconstruction of an epoch, a nostalgic journey for others, a narrative adventure for everybody, in which the imagination has got a central role within the continuous transformations. The result is a well-structured, pleasant book full of surprises, without the heavy load of history and with the document’s vitality” (J.A. Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia “Culturas”, 27 Feb 2013, p.9)

Nadal Prize 2013: awarded on Christmas in Spain, Epiphany, 6 Jan; Wikipedia article.

As commented in another post, book prizes are a very successful and relatively cheap way of promoting a book. In late March, this novel was still no. 4 on the La Vanguardia‘s Top-10 bestselling books in Spanish, having been 5 weeks on the list. Then it disappeared.


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