Snippet: Adrià Pujol’s “Sting of Barcelona”

Adrià Pujol Cruells (Begur, 1974; anthropologist, teacher, writer), Picadura de Barcelona [Sting of Barcelona], 2015, 208 p.

Publisher’s comment:

Barcelona has got the ability to live immersed in a considerable hotchpodge. The Olympics [summer 1992], the Forum [of cultures, 2004], the squatters, the campers [occupy], rising prices, the people that move around and the streets that stay put. The city is a beehive of passions. Some love it, others would burn it.

After dazzling the critics with Escafarlata d’Empordà and Alteracions [Alterations] Adrià Pujol dares to dissect, with intelligence, insight and irony, the city and, on the rebound, the country.

Anna Carreras, critic:

[Pujol Cruells]… transcribes the thoughts and feelings born from the experiences of living in the post-Olympics capital in Picadura de Barcelona, a river novel in which the stream is of someone who would not even shut up under water. … The narrator crosses Barcelona on Saturday night. In this odyssey of going home, the voice that talks to us in the first person -and that makes us laugh with every step- simulates that it is thinking aloud and in a monologue for nobody: observes, smokes, drinks (a lot), talks (little) with the … pedestrians and remembers, reconstructs. …

SOURCE: Edicions Sidillà (publisher); Anna Carreras, review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, June 27, 2015, p. 12 (printed edition)

Snippet: Camões Prize to Hélia Correia

The Portuguese author Hélia Correia (Lisbon, 1949; Wikipedia stub) is the 2015 Camões Prize winner, the most important literary prize for the Portuguese language (Wikipedia).

The achievement award, endowed with 100,000 EUR, has been given to Correia, among other arguments, for the multiple genres in which she writes (novel, short story, drama, poetry), her personal style and for the richness and precision of her Portuguese.

Correia recently won the Conto Camilo Castelo Branco prize (cf. post).

The article at the source talks about Correia’s childhood and early love of books (starting with “Uma infância livre” [a free childhood]); it might be worthwhile reading it with “google translate”…

SOURCE: Público, June 17, 2015

Snippet: González Harbour and the hazards of Spanish country roads

Berna González Harbour, Los ciervos llegan sin avisar [The deer arrive suddenly], 224 p.

Publisher’s summary:

There are occasions in which the only way to advance is going back. This is the apparent paradox that Carmen is facing, an unemployed economist who sees that everything around her is falling apart [job, marriage, apartment]. Confronted with a disheartening present, Carmen decides to look back and solve a mystery buried in the past. Was she the witness of a deadly accident, or was it not a casualty? Sometimes it is not advisable to open door that have been closed for years. Though on the other hand facing challenges can lead to deeper personal changes. Carmen has it clear. She chooses understanding, whatever the consequences might be.

 «The truck driver appeared in the middle of the road, young and strong like that deer that led the escape but with a worse fate. Also death can arrive like this, suddenly».

The author said in an interview that the story of the dying truck-driver happened to herself years ago, though all the rest of the story is the fruit of her fantasy. The plot is set in contemporary Spain, still in crisis, with a sick labor market and seamy motels, with elements of terror and upset characters.

This novel is not a part of the investigator Ruiz series [cf. this post for more information]

SOURCE: RBA (publisher); review/interview by Xavi Ayén, La Vanguardia, June 13, 2015, p. 47 (printed edition)

Snippet: Princess of Asturias award to Leonardo Padura

On June 10, the renamed Princess of Asturias foundation announced its 2015 winner in the literature category, the Cuban author Leonardo Padura.

This blogger counts Herejes [Heretics, 2013; publisher’s summary] by Leonardo Padura (Havana, 1955; Wikipedia) among his best reading experiences of the last year, though it could have been somewhat shorter as a lot of amazon reader reviews remark correctly. Padura is a good storyteller and additionally introduces his readers to the realities of life in contemporary Cuba.

Talking about contemporary Cuba, El País in English published this article on June 12.

SOURCE: Tusquets (publisher)

Snippet: Remembering Antonio Tabucchi

This blogger suddenly realized that he had never even mentioned Antonio Tabucchi (1943-2012; Wikipedia), an Italian lusophile writer and university professor. Sostiene Pereira [Pereira Maintains, Wikipedia] was the blogger’s first glimpse at recent Portuguese history, The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro [Wikipedia] an agreeable reading experience. Tabucchi worked and lived in various Romance languages/countries at the same time, an inspiring model…

Amazon.com lists twelve books written by Tabucchi and available in English.

Snippet: Gonçalo M. Tavares’ “The Neighborhood”

Gonzalo M. Tavares (Luanda [Angola], 1970), a writer and professor of Theory of Science at Lisbon University, began the construction of his interesting neighborhood (O Bairro series) in 2002. In 2015 it has finally made its way to neighboring Spain in a one-volume edition entitled El barrio [The Neighborhood].

The publisher’s summary for the Spanish edition:

Imagine that you could create your own neighborhood of writers, a community made out of those authors whom you admire and who have influenced you. This is what Gonçalo M. Tavares does in El barrio: in its streets you will encounter Italo Calvino, Paul Valéry, Robert Walser, Henri Michaux or Roberto Juarroz, among others. In this utopia for readers, Tavares shows the fictional dialogues, dreams and thoughts these writers might have, now converted into characters of fiction in one of the most ambitious and comprehensive projects of contemporary literature.

In Portuguese, each chapter has been an individual book: O Senhor Valéry [Mr. Valéry] (2002), O Senhor Henri (2003), O Senhor Brecht (2004), O Senhor Juarroz (2004), O Senhor Kraus (2005), O Senhor Calvino (2005), O Senhor Walser (2006), O Senhor Breton (2008), O Senhor Swedenborg (2009), O Senhor Eliot (2010). An exclusively male community…

The author recommends a slow reading, one chapter at a time.

Only after nearly finishing this post and consulting amazon.com, your blogger found out that the book has been available in English since 2012, from Texas Tech UP (website).

Other titles by G.M. Tavares available in English are Jerusalem, Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique, Joseph Walser’s Machine, and most recently A Man: Klaus Klump (2014).

In Spanish, there are also available Biblioteca [Library] and Un viaje a la India [A trip to India].

SOURCE: Planeta; Wikipédia; amazon.com; review by Robert Saladrigas, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, June 6, 2015, p. 6 (printed edition)

Snippet: A study of the literary present by Javier Aparicio, in four volumes

Javier Aparicio (Barcelona, 1964; professor of Spanish and comparative literature at Pompeu Fabra University) recently published the fourth volume of a massive study on the literature of the 20th and 21st centuries. Beyond listing authors and their works, Aparicio is interested in the process of literary creation itself and in the new paradigms that rule the trade.

Volume 1: Lecturas de ficción contemporánea. De Kafka a Ishiguro [Readings of contemporary fiction, from Kafka to Ishiguro], “among other aspects a critical inventory and a reading guide” (Antonio Lozano, La Vanguardia);

vol. 2: El desguace de la tradición. En el taller de la narrativa del siglo XX [The scrapping of tradition: in the workshop of 20th century literature], “an immersion into the works that challenged orthodoxy in the most extreme form;”

vol. 3: Continuidad y ruptura. Una gramática de la tradición en la cultura contemporánea [Continuity and disruption. A grammar of tradition in contemporary culture], “a CSI analysis of how the old literary patterns grab or parasitize that what is considered brand new;”

vol. 4: La imaginación en la jaula. Razones y estrategias de la creación coartada [imagination in the cage. Reasons and strategies for restricted creation]

The publisher’s comment:

La imaginación en la jaula. Razones y estrategias de la creación coartada is a study that gives in to the evidence that it is not licit any longer to talk about imagination and creativity in the same way as before. The reasons are various and simultaneous revolutions. They are examined and contextualized to give the last word to the reader. In this 21st century of uncertainties, uneasiness and obsolescences, certainties are born and die in the field of art at excessive speed. The internet has accelerated the creative process. It has eliminated intermediaries through blogs and platforms for desktop publishing that inject the anxiety of immediacy into creators who did not even want to be ones. It has democratized the creative legitimacy by banishing whatever scale of values. It has often converted artists into “creators of content” whom it helps to recycle and produce, but it also watches them through websites that act as laboratories that monitor and ‘standardize’ [Span. “adocenar”=”make into dozens”] creation. Everything is provided so that all produce more and produce quicker. But the peripheral and the apparent supplant the seminal and true, and creation is distorted or undermined.

SOURCE: Ediciones Cátedra; “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 30, 2015, pp. 12-13 (printed edition)