Snippet: a selection of Portuguese writers

With Portugal as the guest country of the Madrid Book Fair 2017, Xavi Ayén presented some of the contemporary Portuguese writers whose works have been translated into Spanish or Catalan:

Gonçalo Tavares: Breus notes sobre literatura-Bloom [Short notes on literature – Bloom], an “ingenious personal dictionary on literature”; Una niña está perdida en el siglo XX [A girl lost in the 20th century]; Un viatge a l’Índia [A journey to India]. There is a 2015 post on this author.

Afonso Cruz: Dónde están los paraguas [Where the umbrellas are], on the links between Orient and Occident, military intervention, unnecessary suffering; La Muñeca de Kokoschka [Kokoschka’s doll or Kokoschka’s wrist (?)], Jesucristo bebía cerveza [Jesus Christ drank beer]. No older post. doesn’t list any book in English.

António Lobo Antunes: No es medianoche quien quiere [It’s not midnight who wants]; L’esplendor de Portugal [The splendor of Portugal]; 30 books more. 2014 post. lists around a dozen as available in English.

Lídia Jorge: La costa de los murmullos [The coast of the murmurs] on the end of the Portuguese empire; El fugitivo que dibujaba pájaros [The fugitive who drew birds], on country life from the 1930 to the 1980s. 2015 and 2014 posts. lists the mentioned books as available in English.

Valter Hugo Mae: El paradís són els altres [Paradise are the others], on what happens in a marriage where there’s no more love, through a girl’s eyes; La máquina de hacer españoles [The machine to make Spaniards], on a widower in an old-age residence where he meets a lot of strange characters. Wikipedia article. doesn’t list any translations into English.

José Luís Peixoto: En tu vientre [In your bosom], on the apparition of Our Lady of Fàtima to the shepherd girl Lucía. From a 2014 post: José Luís Peixoto (Galveias, Portalegre, 1974, homepage, Wikipedia), Galveias [author’s birthplace]. doesn’t list any translations into English.

Ana Luísa Amaral: Oscuro [Dark], poems on Portuguese national identity. lists the poetry collection The Art of Being a Tiger.

Joao de Melo: Autopsia de un mar en ruinas [Autopsy of a sea in ruins], on the colonial desaster in Angola; Gente feliz con lágrimas [Happy People in Tears], his best known work, a family saga with a lot of different voices that begins in his home region of the Azores. lists Happy People in Tears as available in English.

SOURCE: Xavi Ayén, La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, p. 40 [printed edition]


Not Iberian: JFK centennial (29/05/2017)

John F. Kennedy, White House photo portrait, looking up.jpg

There have been a number of articles in memory of John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) who was born 100 years ago today, e.g. in

The New York Times

The Washington Post

The Guardian

El País

DIE ZEIT (with paywall)

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

As to literature, JFK shared his birthday with G.K. Chesterton.

This blogger owes his most exciting work experiences so far to the memory of JFK (exhibitions, museums)…

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Snippet: Madrid Book Fair 2017

2017  Ena Cardenal de la Nuez

The 76th edition of the Madrid Book Fair takes places in the Retiro park from May 26 to June 11. The guest country is Portugal, geographically very close but quite unknown to the average Spaniard… In 367 huts a total of 488 exhibitors present themselves. There are expected more than 2 M visitors. This year’s slogan: “Madrid, city of reading”, supported by statistics that say that Madrid is the region of Spain where people read most. Among the more than 5,000 activities is for the first time a summit of book fair directors with those of the most important ones in Latin America: Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, Bogotá and Lima.

SOURCE: Fernando García, La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, p. 40 [printed edition]; Madrid Book Fair

Snippet: Marta Sanz’ “We were young women”

Marta Sanz, Éramos mujeres jóvenes. Una educación sentimental de la transición española [We were young women. A love education of the Spanish transition.], 2017, 216 p.

publisher’s summary:

Between essay, personal memory and report, Marta Sanz alternates the evocation of her experience with that of a group of female friends who share their sexual or affective experiences, their desires, their discoveries or their deceptions from adolescence to mature age. Lucid, committed and good humoured, the set traces a revealing generational self-portrait around questions that hardly ever leak out of intimate conversations.

La Vanguardia‘s critic J. A. Masoliver Ródenas reviewed it very favorably.

There are two older posts on Marta Sanz from 2017 and 2015.

SOURCE: Fundación José Manuel Lara (Planeta; publisher); “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, May 6, 2017, pp. 4-5 [printed edition].

Snippet: Orejudo’s “The Famous Five and I”

Antonio Orejudo, Los cinco y yo [The Famous Five and I], 2017, 256 p.

publisher’s summary:

Toni feels that he is a writer who doesn’t write and a professor who doesn’t teach. He grew up reading the adventures of The Famous Five written by Enid Blyton,  books that gave to him that which the Spain of the years before and immediately after Franco’s death was unable to offer to him: entertainment without vigilance, freedom of movement and ginger ale, i.e. the limitless world that the vital intensity of his transition to adolescence needed. In the course of this novel, those personalities that Toni envied so much as a child seem to transform themselves into beings of flesh and bone like himself, who suffers the process in reverse and ends up being what he always wanted to be, one more of them. Los Cinco y yo is a ravishingly original novel that sometimes masks itself as childhood memories, and at others as a disquieting fiction of denunciation, to pass from anecdote to satire and from there to a personal theory of narration.  Antonio Orejudo pays tribute to and at the same time settles accounts with his generation, the one born during the demographic boom of the 1960s, that had nothing to do with the transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Antonio Orejudo (Madrid, 1963) has a PhD in Spanish philology and has been a professor of Spanish literature at American and Spanish universities.

This blogger probably read all of Enid Blyton‘s 21 books of the series in his 1970s childhood but doesn’t remember any of it…

SOURCE: Tusquets (Planeta, publisher)

Snippet: Casajuana on Hugh Thomas (1931-2017)

On May 7, 2017, the historian Hugh Thomas, author of one of the most influential books on the Spanish Civil War, died at age 85.

There have appeared obituaries in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, and El País.

In an article entitled “The ‘prince of hispanists'”, Carles Casajuana writes about his personal experiences with the British historian when he was the Spanish ambassador to the UK. Among other things, he says that the author of The Spanish Civil War (1961; revised ed. 2001), maintained that the Catalan Arnau de Vilanova (Wikipedia) in the 13th century invented the process of alcohol destillation and the production of liquor, which he called acqua vitae. Though the Chinese also claimed the invention, Thomas thought that Arnau at least was the first one in Europe. As to the importance of British historians in the historiography of Spain, Thomas thought the fault lay with the Franco regime and censorship that didn’t permit Spanish historians before 1975 to look without prejudice onto their own recent history; his colleague Paul Preston thinks that there is a second reason, i.e. the way history is taught at British universities, centered on thinking, processing a lot of different information and drawing conclusions, rather than learning by heart huge amounts of historic data. On a more personal note, Casajuana expresses his gratitude to Thomas and his wife for invinting him on different ocasions to dinner parties, which enabled him to get to know many different people and to learn a lot about the British mentality and culture.

You can read more on Carles Casajuana (Sant Cugat del Vallès, 1954) on the pages of the Catalan Writers’ Association. This blogger enjoys his weekly op-ed article in La Vanguardia.

SOURCE: Carles Casajuana, “El ‘príncep dels hispanistes’,” La Vanguardia, May 13, 2017, p. 28 [printed edition]

Snippet: Another “Fátima” miracle?

Dear readers, please forgive this blogger’s frivolous thoughts, but he finds it a big coincidence that a Portuguese singer won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in history on the same day that Pope Francis visited the Fátima pilgrimage site in Portugal to canonize two of the child shepherds who maintained that the Holy Virgin appeared to them in May 1917…

You can read more on the Pope’s visit in an article by The Guardian and in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano; more on “Our Lady of Fátima” in the Wikipedia.

As to the Eurovision Song Contest a few hours later, The Guardian offers an article and a video with the winning singer, Salvador Sobral (Lisbon, 1989; Wikipedia).

Your blogger is neither Roman Catholic nor a keen follower of the Eurovision SC. He admires the social work done by the Roman Catholic Church through “Caritas” in Portugal and Spain, two countries where the welfare state is underdeveloped in comparison to countries further to the north, such as Germany…