August, 27 – 31: story-telling festival in Beja, Portugal

This week, the Portuguese city of Beja (Wikipedia) offers a festival of story-telling in the public park. It is called “Palavras Andarilhas” [Wandering Words], edition no. 13, and there will participate storytellers, writers, illustrators, “reading mediators” and readers. The festival is made up of the “Storytelling Festival”, the meeting of “storytelling apprentices”, a book market, the first library of cloth books from all over the world, and the “whisperers’ forest”, and a lot of music and spoken-word accompanied by music events (official website).

[Translated article excerpts:] Asked why we tell stories at all, Cristina Taquelim, a librarian at the Beja public library and the festival’s organizer, answered the following: “For nothing. Because not everything one does in life needs to be good for something. We live in a world where everything we do has to have a utilitarian nature. The stories are just to be together to listen. And with that listening, solve us as subjects, organize our history. […] There are people who tell stories to be loved, and others listen for the same reason. ” As to storytelling for children who come to the library:  “Storytelling for kids has a very important function. The children develop their vocabulary, structure their verbal utterances, develop their imagination. Somehow, afterwards they seek and apply all of this directly in the context of reading, in the relation with a book, all these skills that have been built from listening.” But the component she values most is relational: “We work a lot with parents and children. With the little ones we notice, and all parents confirm this, a good quality of time” the story-telling contexts can give to the relationship between parents and kids. The festival has got time and space for workshops which bring together parents and children, tale sessions for all ages and tastes, and a playful journey with texts of different poets.

And adults, what do they seek in the stories? “There is a very special enchantment of adults in relation to story-telling,” says Taquelim. “If the tale has a strong symbolic charge, the adult dives into it as does a child.” And she talks of her experience inside and outside the library. “I realize a lot of interesting things, especially in older communities, senior citizens, with whom we work a lot. One finishes telling a story, and there is a need for the person to put it in the geography of their life. The tales also serve for this.” She reminds us that stories can lead us to paths of no return and to circumstances where we immediately project ourselves. “This has to do with the history of human beings themselves. Human nature needs to hear and to tell.” Perhaps that’s why the most magical sessions are those that are part of the “Storytelling Festival”, under the motto “Eu conto para que tu sonhes”     [I will narrate so that you dream].

The “Storytelling Festival” will take place Friday and Saturday night; among the participants are Ana Santos, Ana Sofia Paiva, Avelino Gonzalez, the duo Estupendo Inuendo, Estrella Ortiz, Jorge Serafim, Luís Carmelo, Luzia do Rosário and Vitória Gullon. Each night, the first story will be translated into Portuguese sign language.

There are expected 400 registered participants plus a lot more people coming to those events that are open to the general public.

An example of a story heard by Taquelim and narrated to the journalist is this: “An illiterate woman from Cabeça Gorda [a parish of Beja], forced to go to work far away and to leave the children with her parents, accorded with her children: I will send you a letter: if it is full of crosses, it is because things are going badly; if the letter has birds and flowers, it is because things are going well. After two months, the children receive a letter full of birds and flowers.” [End of excerpts of a longer article]

Source: Público, August 27, 2014


Snippet: non-fiction works for the fall of 2014

Recently, La Vanguardia newspaper announced the works of non-fiction soon to be released onto the Spanish book market. We leave out here all those not originally published in Spanish/Catalan with the exception of those dealing with Spain. They appear in the same order as in the article.


Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, Yo, el barón Thyssen [Me, Baron Thyssen], “memories of a life marked by luxury, success, love scandals, business and art.”

Josep Pla, La vida lenta [The slow life], diaries of 1956, 1957 and 1964.

Octavio Paz (biography)

Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, Fidel Castro (biography)

Jaime Velasco Kindelán, Emilio Botín (banker’s biography)

Antonio Garrigues Walker (lawyer’s biography)

José Manuel Vidal, Rouco Varela (non-authorized cardinal’s biography)

Beatriz de Moura (publisher’s autobiography)

Teresa de Jesús (Saint’s biography)

William Ospina, Bolívar (indepence hero’s/rebel’s biography)

Eduardo Navarro, La sombra de Suárez [Suárez’ shadow] (memories)

Francisco Serrat, Salamanca, 1936 (memories of a Franco foreign secretary)


Paul Preston, El final de la guerra [The war’s end]

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Crónica de la guerra europea 1914-1918 [Chronicle of the European War, 1914-1918]

Gutmaro Gómez, Puig Antich. La transición inacabada [P.A. The unfinished transition]

Luis M. Francisco, Morir en África [To die in Africa]

Miquel Caralt, Fernando Casal, Historia de España explicada a los jóvenes [History of Spain explained to the young]

Manuel Lucena, 82 objetos que cuentan un país [82 objects that narrate a country]

Santiago Posteguillo, La sangre de los libros [The books’ blood](literary history’s enigmas)


Carlos Fuentes, Pantallas de plata [Silver screens] (on cinema and literature)

Javier Reverte, Un otoño romano [A Roman autumn]

Eduard Punset, El viaje a la vida [The journey to life]

Fernando Savater, ¡No te prives!. Defensa de la ciudadanía [Do not abstain. Defense of citizenship]

Víctor Gómez Pin, Reducción y combate del animal humano [Reduction and fight of the human animal]

Sergio Pitol, El tercer personaje [The third character]

Luis Racionero, Ética para Alicia [Ethics for Alice]

Anton Losada,  Código mariano [Marian’s code]


Henry Kamen, España y Cataluña [Spain and Catalonia]

Santiago Muñoz, Cataluña y las demás Españas [Catalonia and the other Spains]

Pere Ysàs, Carme Molinero, La cuestión catalana [The Catalan question]

Joaquín Leguina, Los 10 mitos del nacionalismo catalán [The 10 myths of Catalan nationalism]

Enrique Barón, La era del federalismo [The era of federalism]

José Enrique Ruiz-Domènec, ¿Sucesión o secesión? [Succession or secession]

Antonio Morales, 1714. La monarquía borbónica y Cataluña [1417, the Bourbon monarchy and Catalonia]

Ricardo Fernández Aguilà, Un Fernandes entre banderas [A Fernandes between flags]


If you would like to know more on a specific title, please comment.


SOURCE: La Vanguardia, August 22, 2014



Snippet: Jaume Vallcorba, Independent Publisher, Dies at 64

Jaume Vallcorba Plana (Tarragona, 1949 – Barcelona, 2014; Wikipedia) was the founder of the publishing houses Quaderns Crema (1979, website) and Acantilado (1999, website), apparently still independent of the big publishing groups that dominate the Catalan (Grup62 – Planeta), Spanish and worldwide markets (Planeta, Penguin Random House).  He held a PhD from the Universitat de Barcelona; he taught there as well as in an MA program on publishing of Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Vallcorba is seen as the discoverer of many of the most important contemporary Catalan authors, such as Quim Monzó and Sergi Pàmies. Through his publishing houses, he enabled Catalans and Spaniards to read many European classics as well as contemporary authors from Central and Eastern Europe. The books were not only of intellectual quality but also artisanally as the publisher insisted on the use of high quality materials for a durable product; examples of can be seen in a video accompanying a 2010 exhibition on the Quaderns Crema style. Vallcorba died from a brain tumor.

Poetry by Vallcorba, “Waves & Stars”, cover image taken from:


Exhibition held in 2010 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Q.C.

Source: La Vanguardia, August 24, 2014; 

Snippets: John Dos Passos and Spain

Today’s web searches have been inspired by a short article by John Dos Passos’ grandson J.D.P. Coggin in El País on a new documentary, Duelo al sol [Duel in the sun], on his grandfather’s activities during the Spanish Civil War, i.e. Dos Passos’ reporting from the War and his search for the background to his friend’s José Robles’ death in 1937. Coggin’s blog offers information in English on the documentary, directed by Sonia Tercero Ramiro,  produced by TVE [Spanish national public TV], and to be released in the fall of 2014.

Searching for “Dos Passos” and “Spain” one quickly gets to the study The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos and the Murder of José Robles (2005) by Stephen Koch, reviewed e.g. in The New Yorker (2005) and The Telegraph (2006).

And one encounters the recent “novel-study” (?) Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War, by Amanda Vaill (homepage), covering partly the same ground, though with Dos Passos clearly in a secondary role. It has been reviewed, e.g. in The Telegraph, The Wall Street JournalThe Guardian – by Paul Preston, not too enthusiastic about Vaill’s rendering of the Civil War -, on NPR, and also in The New York Times (paywall).

As to Dos Passos’ own writing, some of his experiences of his first stay in Spain in 1916 can be found in Rosinante to the Road Again (1922), free for online reading or download on Project Gutenberg.

Debut novel “The long night” by Javier Mije

Recently published, the novel La larga noche [The long night] by Javier Mije (Sevilla, 1969) has received positive reviews, such as the one by J. Ernesto Mayala-Dip in El País.

The publisher’s promotional excerpt reads like this:

“He had received the handwritten note by Almeida at his producer’s headquarters in Barcelona. It looked like the page of a school notebook, as if it had been ripped off from the note pages of an agenda, in a large and disordered handwriting that didn’t heed to the paper’s pattern. A sinoptic plot and the movie’s title: La larga noche. He didn’t have many further instructions for a script whose first draft had to be finished within 16 weeks. […] Though Almeida’s note didn’t refer explicitly to any historical episode, he remembered vaguely that “La larga noche” was the name given to the resistance movement in Madrid during the Civil War.”

Thus, one could think it was a novel on the Spanish Civil War, but according to its author, it is not. “There are two love stories; one in the form of a lost paradise to which a character aims to return in a crucial moment of his life, and another relationship that suffers from the wear and tear of time, but also from treachery and deceit.” […] Literature “has specialized in putting the magnifying glass on couple relationships.”

Javier Mije studied literary theory and comparative literature. He published the story collections El camino de la oruga [The caterpillar’s path] in 2003 and El fabuloso mundo de nada [The fabulous world of nothing] in 2010.

SOURCES: Acantilado (publisher); La Vanguardia, June 8, 2014