Snippet: Jordi Sierra i Fabra

This blogger doesn’t know if one call it literature when talking about a writer with more than 420 titles to his name, but he likes very much the idea of sponsoring a literary prize for writers below age 18… both of these things are true for Jordi Sierra i Fabra (Barcelona, 1947; Catalan writers association’s biography).

The Wikipedia article with little information on the author but with the enormous bibliography is not available in English, but his homepage is… and also are the pages of his foundations in Spain and Latin America.

“A precocious author, he began writing at age 8, and at age 12 he wrote his first pages. In 1970 he abandoned his studies and worked as a professional music commentator. … His memoirs are called Mis (primeros) 400 libros. Cuándo, dónde y por qué los escribí [My (first) 400 books. When, where and why I wrote them.]”

Wikipedia lists a few titles as available in English, but the search is somewhat complicated…




Crime literature festivals in Spain

As Antonio Iturbe remarked in a recent column, crime literature festivals are booming in Spain. Those mentioned by him are listed here in chronological order. The reason for the frequent appearance of the word “black” in their titles is that in Spanish the genre is called “novela negra” (Catalan: “novel·la negra”), literally “black novel”, in Alicante they decided to translate it “dark novel”.

Aragonegro [Black Aragón], 2016: Jan. 14 – 31, website (Spanish only)

Pamplona Negra [Black Pamplona], Navarra, 2016: Jan. 19 – 23, facebook (Spanish only)

Tiana Negra [Black Tiana], Maresme, Catalonia, 2016: Jan. 22 – 23, blog (Catalan only)

BCNegra [Black Barcelona], crime novel week, 2016: Jan. 28 – Feb. 6, website (Catalan, Spanish)

Tenerife Noir [Black Tenerife], Canary Islands, 2016: March 2 – 18, website (Spanish only)

Festival Internacional de Novel·la Negra en Català [Int’l Catalan crime novel festival], L’Espluga de Francolí, 2016: April 8 – 10, blog (Catalan only)

Encuentro de Casas Ahorcadas de Cuenca [Cuenca hung houses meeting], Castilla La Mancha, 2016: April 29 – May 1, blog (Spanish only)

València Negra [Black Valencia], 2016: May 6 – 15, facebook (Spanish only)

Mayo Negro de Alicante [Alicante Dark May], 2016: May 21 – 24, program (English)

El Segre de Negre [The Segre river in black], Lleida, 2016: June 3 – 4, article (Catalan only)

Semana Negra de Gijón [Gijón crime novel week], Asturias, 2016: July 8 – 17, 29th edition, the “mother” of all these festivals in Spain, a big event with powerful sponsors, website (Spanish only)

Granada Noir [Black Granada], 2016: Oct. 3 -9, website (Spanish only)

Getafe Negro [Black Getafe],2016: Oct. 14 – 23, website (Spanish only)


SOURCE: A. Iturbe, ‘llibrescopi: Som negres,’ “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, June 18, 2016, p. 14 [printed edition]

Impressions from the village pool

Saint John the Baptist’s Day (24 June, a public holiday) marks the beginning of the outdoor pool season in the small village off the coast where this blogger lives. For many families with smaller children the summer days will be organized around its opening hours. The following thoughts appeared in 2015 after weeks of daily visits with plenty of time for observation…

The public pool opening hours are noon to 8 p.m. from 24 June to 11 September (Catalan national holiday). During approximately four weeks there are held swimming lessons in the mornings for kids aged 3 to 12; the oldest start first at around 9 a.m., the youngest get their lessons shortly before noon. For the smallest it takes one to two summers to learn to swim safely, the older ones train different styles (crawl, breaststroke, butterfly, etc.).

When the summer heat becomes unbearable, the pool is a welcome place of refuge – and fills up quickly. Normally in the late afternoon, apart from the mosquitos, there appears a refreshing breeze from the sea behind the mountains that provides for cooler evenings and sound sleep.

There is a wide variety of pool guests:

Parents and kids considerate of the others, some of them less so. On weekdays, a lot of grandmothers and their grandchildren whose parents work; hardly ever a grandfather alone with his grandchild. The growth of the kids from one summer to the next is stunning. The teenagers often come without adult company, and they play cards when not in the water. Another important group are “hipster” youth in their early twenties: fully bearded, observing from behind the lenses of a variety of Wayfarer sunglasses, who keep it cool in the shade. The gender distribution in 2015 was uneven: too many males for the one single female, the situation improved slightly in August.

There are also strange guys, some of them quiet and observing, others not. People marked by life, a lot of them overweight – the Mediterranean diet is not followed by them though they live in the Mediterranean. An elevated number of smokers who like afternoon beer. Such as the construction worker who lights up while watching his teenage sons, one of them obese, before riding his mid-size motorcycle home.

Some of the life guards are very attentive, others less so, or more to their smartphones… apart from keeping an eye on those in the water, they run a kiosk where they sell coffee, beer, softdrinks, icecream and candy by piece – which, if you have small kids, means a daily challenge: searching for ways to educate your offspring in capitalism and the responsible use of a limited resource called pocket money.

This observer normally likes the first week at the pool, and then could think of other places to be. The higher the temperatures, the fuller the pool, and the lower the desire to go there; the main problems being the noise and the many negative models the kids are being exposed to every day… There is still hope that things improve. Have a nice summer!


Snippet: Gabriel Janer Manila’s memories

Gabriel Janer Manila, Ha nevat sobre Yesterday [Snow has fallen over Yesterday], 2016, 400 p.

The publisher’s summary:

Gabriel Janer Manila, the novelist who shook the Balearic literature during the 1970s and 80s returns to the frontstage with his rich and literary powerful memories. Through the life and work of his family, clothes sellers at countryside fairs in Mallorca, he portrays the island. He evokes his childhood in the village of Algaida, in contact with nature, with the weight of the [Spanish Civil] war still present, in surroundings where all know each other. The religious education and the nuns draw an atmosphere that today appears pintoresque and moving.

The author gets excited about the island’s popular culture: certain folkloric imagery, witchcraft, popular legends, erotic songs. He resists the pressure to become a priest. He descovers the passion for learning and teaching and also the cultural activism of certain groups. And despite the shadow of Franco, the beginning of the 1960s brings, like a breeze, the songs of the Beatles, liberty and uprising.

Gabriel Janer Manila (Algaida, Mallorca, 1940) is a graduate of Letters, PhD in Education from the Universitat de Barcelona, Chair of Anthropology of Education at the Universitat de les Illes Balearsés, and a writer. In 1967 he presented himself with L’abisme [Abyss], for which he was awarded the City of Palma novel prize. From then on he has continued to publish novels, with emblematic titles such as Els alicorns [The head-wand] (Josep Pla prize 1971), La cerimònia [The ceremony] (1977), Els rius de Babilònia [The rivers of Babylon] (Premi Sant Joan 1984), La dama de les boires [The lady of the fogs] (1987, Columna 2000), Paradís d’orquídies [Orchids’ paradise] (Columna, 1992), Lluna creixent sobre el Tàmesi [Growing moon over the Thames](Columna, 1993), La vida, tan obscura [Life, so dark] (Columna, 1996), Els jardins incendiats [The gardens set afire] (Premi Carlemany 1997, Columna 1997), Estàtues sobre el mar [Statues on the sea] (Columna, 2000), and George. El perfum dels cedres  [George. The cedars’ perfume] (Premi Nèstor Luján, Columna, 2002). He has also written essays and juvenile literature. At present times, Janer Manila is the director of the Institut d’Estudis Baleàrics [Institute of Balearic Studies; IBS website (Catalan only)].

Julià Guillamon calls it “the first great memory book by an author of the 1970s generation.”

SOURCE: Proa (publisher); “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, June 11, 2016, p. 6 [printed edition]