Snippet: Torrent’s “Individuals like us”

Ferran Torrent, Individus com nosaltres [Individuals like us], 2017, 368 p.

publisher’s summary:

The best Ferran Torrent is here again with a new, frenetic book. The implacable portrait of the daily life of a country at a certain time.

It’s the beginning of 2015 and the political panorama in Valencia will shortly change in ways unheard of during decades… but the people who live against the stream cannot and don’t want to stop doing it. Marc Sendra, a journalist turned into self-employed after leaving his newspaper, is preparing a novel on a historic robbery in downtown Valencia. He does so with the help of old acquaintances, such as El Llargo, El Messié, Father Rafel and the Mythic Regino, as well as the retired detective Toni Butxana, the Torres brothers and the former police commissioner Tordera. However, there stumble in a totally unexpected kidnapping and an assassination; elements that he himself wanted to add to the book as incentives, and that are suddenly becoming a part of the most immediate reality…

Ferran Torrent (Sedaví, Valencia region, 1951) is a writer and journalist.


From a review by Julià Guillamon:

Torrent has created a formula that always works, with lovable characters, with different plots of intrigue falcated with each other, like a big farolero poker game or a microscopic billiards, with a critical and melancholic view of the autonomous region of Valencia that in each new installment incorporates the novelties of the moment.

… Torrent never disappoints… you leave with the pockets full of simple and honest fun [casino metaphor].

There a quite a lot of previous titles written by Ferran Torrent since the 1980s in which star the same characters, or at least some of them; the most recent:

Cambres d’acer inoxidable [Stainless steel chambers], 2000

Societat limitada [Ltd.], 2002

Judici final [Final judgment], 2006

Només socis [Only members/Members only (?)], 2008

Un dinar un dia qualsevol [Lunch some day], 2015

According to the Catalan writers’ association, some of his works have been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish.

SOURCE: Grup 62 (Planeta, publisher); review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, June 17, 2017, p. 43 [printed edition]


Snippet: A small, independent Spanish publisher in NYC

The name: Chatos Inhumanos, maybe to be translated as “inhuman kids” or “dwarfs” – “chato” as a noun in a friendly context means “little one”…

Founded by two Spaniards, two Peruvians and a Colombian who live in New York City and work in publishing and journalism.

“[A]ccording to one of the founders, Ulises González, who is also the soul of the literary magazine Los Bárbaros [“the barbarians”; blog; published since 2014 in NYC, now also available in Argentina and Spain], [it is called Chatos Inhumanos because] ‘were are more all the time, we walk around, shorter than the average, speaking our foreign language.’ The label wants to publish Spanish-speaking authors in English and Spanish.”

The first published book is Burp, by the writer and translator Mercedes Cebrián, a kind of cookbook with the author’s gastronomical obsessions.

SOURCE: Begoña Gómez Urzaiz, ‘antivirals’, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, July 8, 2017, p. 2 [printed edition]; Chatos Inhumanos (publisher)

Snippet: Notivol’s “Emptying the cabinets”

Rodolfo Notivol, Vaciar los armarios [Emptying the cabinets], 2016, 388 p.

publisher’s summary:

Marina, the second of nine siblings, looks back after the years and in a long monologue slowly reveals the history of her family. With its lights and shadows, the records surface with the naturalness of her who narrates in the only possible way what happened.

In the same way as when an old family cupboard is emptied, the words and events of a whole lifetime are exposed to light again: the child games, the complicity of and differences between siblings, the house where they grew up, a mother with a sour character who irradiates a powerful presence, the different ways that they took when they became adults. And in the background, the necessity of affection and the incapacity of showing it. The search for happiness, the outstreched hands and the words that were not spoken.

In Vaciar los armarios, Rodolfo Notivol narrates in a masterful way stories as universal as those of all families, and so particular as those that only happen in our family.

Juan Ángel Juristo (critic): “… the reader is torn between tears and laughter. This is the best quality of the book, which makes it precious.”

SOURCE: Xordica (publisher); J.A. Juristo, review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, p. 8 [printed edition]

Tourism as a social problem

Unofficial translation of an op-ed article by Julio Llamazares, published in El País:

I come back from Lisbon, exhausted from fighting with the thousands of tourists that by day and night fill the streets of the white city, apparently recently en vogue such as other cities of the center and the south of Europe. It had been some time since I last visited the place, and besides the views, the historic monuments and the streets with its characteristic trams, a lot of them already used by tourists only, it took an effort to recognize it, such has been the change during recent years. The famous gentrification, the economic and aesthetic epidemic that consumerism imposes wherever mass-tourism gets to, has converted Lisbon into a new Barcelona in the same manner that Barcelona is a reflection of Rome or Prague. With the exception of the monuments, the modern neighborhoods and a few corners, everything has been homologated in these cities; the traditional trade and commerce has disappeared, substituted by franchises and by fashion stores; and the local populations are devoted to the unscrupulous fleecing of the tourists, who, rather than travellers, have been turned into victims of a new and legal banditry, accepted by all or nearly all. “Don Dinero” (“Sir Money”) is too powerful to take into account ethical considerations.

But the problem of gentrification and the excess of tourists begins to affect also these populations that observe how their cities become more expensive all the time and practically impossible to live in, which pushes them to the suburbs or into madness, such are the noise and agglomeration of people. While I was in Lisbon I read in this newspaper that for the native population of Barcelona tourism already constitutes the major problem in their daily life, above unemployment and the crisis that topped the list before. I.e. that which was seen as an economic solution begins to be seen as a problem by many, including by a lot of those who live off it. Even though tourism creates jobs, the precariousness of these and the increase in the cost of living brought about by tourism have negative effects on them. And the same happens with the environment, that is meant to be restored with new taxes on the tourists, which ultimately are nothing else but a new form of fleecing.

One of the big changes of the last decades of the 20th century and the first ones of the 21st is the massification of travel, until then a privilege of the upper classes or of romantic wanderers who tried to find themselves in the landscapes of other places in the world. I don’t think that anybody is against the democratization of travel, as nobody can be against the democratization of knowledge, but if it is not regulated in some way, tourism is going to be (already being it in a lot of places) the last plague of humanity.

SOURCE: Julio Llamazares, El País, July 1, 2017, p. 2