Snippet: May 28/29 – June 14, 2015: Lisbon and Madrid book fairs

(c) Feria del Libro de Madrid

Strangely enough, the main book fairs for Spanish and Portuguese literature take place in parallel at exactly the same time. Not very helpful for an exchange of ideas, etc. between neighbors, though the bibliophiles in both countries will know the productions of their respective literatures without any need to attend any book fair…

Lisbon bookfair site (c) Público

In Lisbon the 85th edition will start on May 28, 2015. Parque Eduardo VII. 271 booths. 123 exhibitors, etc. There will be show-cooking to present cooking books, lots of activities addressed to young readers, round-tables on industry questions such as fixed book prices, piracy, etc. Open daily from around 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. [Official website, Portuguese only, hardly any information so far.]

Madrid will start its 74th edition on May 29. Parque del Retiro. 368 booths and 471 exhibitors: 25 official organisms, 9 distributors, 60 specialized booksellers, 55 general booksellers, 185 publishers from Madrid and 137 publishers from outside Madrid. Special attention on José Àngel Valente, Carmen Martín Gaite and Teresa de Jesús. Open daily around 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. [lunch hour, then siesta] and 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. More information on the official website (Spanish only).

SOURCE: Público, May 19, 2015; “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 23, 2015, p. 2 (printed edition)

Snippet: Luján on the Barcelona streetcars and other topics (non-fiction)

Nèstor Luján (Mataró, 1922 – Barcelona, 1995), La Barcelona dels tramvies i altres textos [The Barcelona of streetcars and other texts], 2015, 256 p.

Publisher’s summary:

Jordi Amat and Agustí Pons (eds.) present and comment an an accurate selection of articles that Nèstor Luján dedicated to the city of Barcelona, to its social and political life and to the great characters of Catalan culture that filled with light the darkest decades of the Franco regime. The selection has been made from the countless texts that Nèstor Luján published in the magazine Destino from 1946 until the first years of the transition [from dictatorship to democracy, 1975-1978].

This book wants to change the view on post-war journalism, as it situates the beginning of the journalism of complaint not in the 1960s and with the new generations, but at the end of the 1940s and at the hands of Nèstor Luján.

Julià Guillamon, La Vanguardia:

Luján pointed out aspects (dirtiness, danger, bad service) [of the Barcelona streetcars] that were defensible from the perspective of bourgois mentality of Destino [magazine] and up to a certain point acceptable to those who ruled. Once the article was published one could use it politically: the streetcars became a metaphor for the chaos all around. Luján’s character, acid and disillusioned from a very young age, presented a forcefulness unusual for the time’s press.

SOURCE: Editorial Meteora; review by Julià Guillamon, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 23, 2015, p. 8 (printed edition)

Snippet: C. Castelo Branco Prize for Hélia Correia

Hélia Correia’s (Lisbon, 1949; Wikipedia stubVinte Degraus e Outros Contos [Twenty Steps and other stories] is the winner of the 23rd Grande Prémio de Conto Camilo Castelo Branco for books published in 2014. The cash prize of 7,500 EUR is given annually by the Portuguese writers’ association and the municipality of Famalicão (Wikipedia) for a work written in Portuguese by a Portuguese or African author.

Publisher’s note:

Vinte Degraus e Outros Contos is a collection of eleven stories by Hélia Correia. Some of them … have got recognizable references. «Seroda» is another story of Mariana Cruz, of Amor de Perdição [Doomed Love], and «Captura» [Capture] another point of view for “A Imitação da Rosa” [Imitation of the Rose] by Clarice Lispector. «Uma Noite em Luddenden» [A night in Luddenden] evokes Branwell Brontë. «Hélder e Djalme» [H. and D.] are removed names of real people. «A Dama Singular» [The singular lady] is dedicated to a decisive woman in Portuguese literature.

Isabel Lucas, Público:

Hélia Correia puts together eleven stories where the women are central characters in grotesque universes where good and evil are nearly indistinguishable. If there is salvation, then it is in literature.

Among Correia’s work are the poem collections O Separar das Águas [The separating of the waters; 1981] and O Número dos Vivos [The number of the living; 1982].

Other (prize-winning) titles are

A Casa Eterna [The eternal house; Prémio Máxima de Literatura, 2000],

Lillias Fraser [Prémio de Ficção do Pen Club, 2001, and Prémio D. Dinis, 2002],

Bastardia [Bastardy; Prémio Máxima de Literatura, 2006]

Adoecer [Sicken; Prémio da Fundação Inês de Castro, 2010].

Hélia Correia has not been translated into English yet, but amazon.com lists the following 2012 seminar paper by Laura Smith: The Theme of Loneliness as Treated by Maria Judite de Carvalho, Maria Ondina Braga, Teolinda Gersao and Helia Correia.

(More on the author Camilo Castelo Branco after whom the prize is named can be found in the Wikipedia.)

SOURCE: Público, May 11, 2015; publisher’s blog

François Maspero (1932-2015) and Spain

François Maspero (Wikipedia article) was a French publisher, translator, etc. who died on April 11, 2015. La Vanguardia newspaper published an obituary by Rafael Poch, their Paris correspondent, under the title “The small big outraged publisher of Paris”. Some parts of it, especially those concerning Maspero’s relation to Spain, are reproduced here:

[…] Publisher, author, translator and untypical personality in the world of Parisian intellectuals. … Maspero was a humble man totally oblivious to any form of arrogance. … He was the editor of a whole series of fundamental books for the Left of his age, marked by the war, Algeria, anti-colonialism, disillusionment with the Soviet system, love for Cuba and fascinated by Latin America. Very young, at age 23, and without money, he bought a bookstore at the Quartier Latin. …

His older brother Jean died in the ranks of the French resistance, … , his father died at Buchenwald, his mother returned as if by miracle alive from Ravensbrück. Years later first a daughter and then his wife died from cancer.

In 1959 he founded the Maspero publishing house. The first book was Spanish; a quite weak essay on the Spanish Civil War by Pietro Nenni, “the result of the shame provoked by the memory of France’s attitude towards the Spanish Republic.” … In one of the freest countries in Europe the publisher Maspero was sentenced 17 times. He received five months of imprisonment for a book that messed with Mobutu, the king of African dictators. …

Maspero was a friend of José Martínez [Guerricabeitia, 1921-1986]. Ten years older, the editor of Ruedo Ibérico [publishing house] was his Spanish alter ego, because both belonged to a Left they were not ashamed of belonging, and precisely for this reason, Martínez did not fit into the Spanish “transition”. Maspero is responsible for the most precise epitaph for Martínez …: “He died in exile in his own country.”

In the 1970s, when both the bookstores of Martínez (rue de Latran) and Maspero’s publishing house were the targets of bomb attacks, Maspero was the one to face the danger as formally the director of the magazine Cuadernos de Ruedo Ibérico [lit. Iberian arena notebooks], the most interesting and open publication of the anti-Franco movement. The French law required a French director, so that in 1972, when they prosecuted Luciano Rincón in Madrid as the author of a biography of Franco (under the pseudonym of Luis Ramírez), Maspero went there to testify. He said that he was the author and not Rincón, and he gave two reasons: the first, that he was a manic of insulting foreign heads of state and that he had already been condemned in his country for having insulted Mobutu (the analogy was not liked); the second, because his father-in-law, Miguel González Batlle, had been shot in Barcelona in 1939. “Obviously I was detained when I left the court and immediately expelled from the country,” he remembered in 2008. “Maybe it served so that Rincón was sentenced to four years instead of 15.”

For ten years, the two publishers had breakfast together in their neighborhood. When Martínez died, he was correcting the proofs of Maspero’s autobiographic Le Sourire du chat [The cat’s smile] that he had translated into Spanish.

Maspero closed the publishing house in 1982 and also the bookstore, … Some cretins thought that he was a rich man. He wasn’t in money terms but in many other aspects as has been demonstrated. At the end of his life he regretted not having spent more energy on poetry.

Verso Books offers this interview with Maspero.

SOURCE: La Vanguardia, April 25, 2015, p. 41 (printed edition)

Snippet: Verónica Sánchez’ “Things we won’t be able avoid”

Verónica Sánchez Orpella, Coses que no podrem evitar [Things we won’t be able to avoid], 2015, 234 p.

The publisher offers this summary in English, i.e. there is the possibility of a translation:

Coses que no podrem evitar  is a novel that tells us the story of a Barcelona teenager whose routine shifts when his father –someone who comes in and out of his life— invites him to take a yearlong trip to Asia. Compelled by the adventurous spirit of the filmInto the Wild, but also by a feeling of lack of control typical of his age, the protagonist sets off on a voyage that will take him to Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet and Nepal. An odyssey that will take him away from the women in his life, who are his main points of reference, and with whom he will have to forge new long-distance relationships.

From a review:

A version of the Orient journey for precocious and highly educated youth who, alone in front of the world, face fears, pains, hopes and disillusionments. … Its romanticism is that of a movie, with great panoramic landscapes…  Though not explained explicitly, the readers understand that they are following the experiences of a new elite from Barcelona, born to qualified professionals, cosmopolitan and with an unusual education. … The Carlemany prize for the promotion of reading is well deserved.

There is also a spotify playlist to accompany the novel (on the promo page).

Coses que no podrem evitar won the 2014 Carlemany prize for the promotion of reading, given by the government of Andorra, Grup 62 (publisher) and the Enciclopèdia Catalana foundation and endowed with 10.000 EUR.

SOURCE: Grup 62; review by Julià Guillamon, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 9, 2015, p. 6 (printed edition)

Snippet: Maria Ángeles Cabré’s “Countercurrently…” – on eight female writers (non-fiction)

Maria Ángeles Cabré, A contracorriente. Escritoras a la intemperie del siglo XX [Countercurrently. (Female) writers out in the open of the 20th century], 2015, 280 p.

The publisher’s summary:

Quite some time ago literature ceased to be an exclusively male homeland, and today there are many female writers who populate our libraries, converting them into more plural and fertile places. A contracorriente summons eight (female) writers who went out to writing with tenacity in the most agitated century and with whom we are in debt for some of our most favorite readings.

From the German thinker Hannah Arendt to the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, from the universal Catalan Mercè Rodoreda, one of the most authorized voices of our literature “in the feminine”, to the Danish Isak Dinesen, via the Ucranian-French Irène Némirovsky, the Italian Elsa Morante and the American Carson McCullers, without forgetting Virginia Woolf, a British of unswerving literary vocation and one of the most important writers of the 20th century.

With very different life courses and literary backgrounds, all of them protagonized intensive lives. Disease left some of them in suspense, others went away too early, some took their life, and exile marked the existence of those who were forced to start again in new landscapes. Eight portraits that illuminate the legend of these essential authors without whom modern literature would not be the same.

Maria Ángeles Cabré (Barcelona, 1968) is a writer, translator, literary critic, and director of the Observatori Cultural de Gènere [Cultural observatory on gender; homepage (Catalan)]. She is also a prolific blogger (four blogs in Spanish).

SOURCE: Elba (publisher); review by Pepe Rivas in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 2, 2015, pp. 10-11 (printed edition).

Snippet: Xavier Güell’s “Memory’s music” – on seven composers

Xavier Güell, La música de la memoria [Memory’s music], 2015, 479 p.

The publisher’s summary:

La Música de la Memoria is a novel that narrates in first person the confessions of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner and Mahler. Their witnesses of life and creation are braided in a bow that follows with a passionate throb the course of the whole 19th century until reaching the dawn of the 20th. It’s the age of Romanticism where the life and death, love and loneliness, joy and desperation of its protagonists clear up in a convulsive whole, creating situations that could all have been true.

Written by the director Xavier Güell, a connoisseur of the lives and works of the composers that star in the book, La Música de la Memoria enables music lovers and general readers to intimately get to know seven of the greatest musical geniuses of all times.

And at the same time it asks fascinating and decisive questions: who was Beethoven’s «immortal love»? Was Schubert gay? Why did Schumann accept his wife Clara’s love of Johannes Brahms? Why did Liszt end up within the Catholic Church? Did Mahler want to burn his Tenth Symphony? As Oscar Wilde said, «music is the art that is most nigh to tears and memories.»

The book has received a lot of attention and a very positive reception by the critics.

SOURCE: Galaxia Gutenberg; review by J.E. Ruiz-Domènec, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 9, 2015, pp. 8 – 9 (printed edition).