Snippet: Paulina Pi de la Serra’s “Emma’s story”


Paulina Pi de la Serra, Història d’Emma [Emma’s story], 2018, 97 p.

publisher’s summary:

[The poet] Salvador Espriu defined her as “one of the few authentic values of our nation.” Paulina Pi de la Serra (1906-1991) is an author to be rediscovered. There has arrived the moment when her work, until know limited to the local sphere of Terrassa, can be known around the country.

Born in Terrassa in 1906 into a well-off, intellectual and Catalanist family, Paulina Pi de la Serra believed in her possibilities and knew how to make a place for herself in the Catalan culture world.

Història d’Emma is the only incursion that Paulina Pi de la Serra made into fiction: four short stories set in a cultured and cosmopolitan world at the time of the [Spanish Civil] war and postwar years. Written at different moments of her life, these stories were published together in 1982 by the Amics de les Arts i Joventuts Musicals de Terrassa [Terrassa friends of the arts and musical youth] club. Edicions del Núvol now recovers this shining volume.

Offered as a free e-book on the publisher’s page and available in print at bookstores.

Author information from the Wikipedia:

Paulina Pi de la Serra i Joly (Terrassa, 1906-1991) was a Catalan politician and cultural activist. Born into a well-off, intellectual, conservative and Catalanist family, at hardly more than 20 years of age she began her political activity. She became a very popular speaker and was called El rossinyol de la Lliga [The League’s (political party) nightingale]. During the Spanish Civil War she lived in Paris, where she worked different jobs (among them teacher and translator) and where she was interrogated by the Gestapo. In 1945 she returned to Terrassa to keep company to her father who was sick. Paulina Pi de la Serra worked as a highschool teacher of Catalan, French and other subjects. She wrote for newspapers, contributed to radio shows and held numerous speeches, becoming a cultural reference for the Anti-Franco resistance. In 1963 she promoted the creation of a UNESCO center in Terrassa. Paulina encouraged her nephew Quico Pi de la Serra to become a singer-songwriter.

Paulina had a secret daughter with the diplomat Joan Estelrich, both of them related to the Lliga Regionalista [regionalist league; political party]: Helena Feliu Pi de la Serra, who in 2012 published the novel Pecat original [Original sin], in which she unconvered the relationship and her story. Helena was born in Switzerland during a journey that Paulina camouflaged with a scholarship, and she was raised by a couple in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona.


SOURCE: Biblioteca del Núvol (publisher), Viquipèdia


Snippet: Hernández’ “The pain of the others”

Miguel Ángel Hernández, El dolor de los demás [The pain of the others], 2018, 312 p.

publisher’s summary:

On Christmas Eve 1995, Miguel Ángel Hernández’ best friend murdered his sister and took his life jumping into a gorge. It happened in a hamlet in the garden area of Murcia. Nobody ever knew why. The investigation was closed, and the crime remained for ever in oblivion. Twenty years later, when the wounds seem to have stopped bleeding and the mourning has been completed, the writer decides to return to the area and, putting himself into the detective’s skin, tries to reconstruct that tragic night that marked the end of his adolescence. But traveling in time always means changing the past, and the investigation wakes up ghosts that he believed to have left behind: the childhood marked by the Church, sin and guilt; the constant presence of disease and death; the oppressive and closed universe that one day he managed to leave behind. And with them there also emerges the experience of a contradictory nostalgia: the memory of a veiled happiness, the reunion with an unjustly buried origin.

A moving novel about the collision of two worlds and two ways of life. A superb narration in two times that brings the readers into a profound and unexplored Spain. A reckoning with the past. But, above all, a subtle and incisive meditation on the ethics of literature that, as the narrator of this story says in some moment, makes us become aware that “by writing one doesn’t always win,that sometimes we also shipwreck before the pain of the others.”

Anagrama has got a foreign rights page with some biographic information on Hernández and summaries of his previous novels published there, among them Escape attempt, which is available in English.

SOURCE: Anagrama (publisher)

Snippet: Mónica Baños, “Where the stars disappear” (juvenile literature)

Donde desaparecen las estrellas

Mónica Baños, Donde desaparecen las estrellas [Where the stars disappear], 2018, 320 p.

winner of the 6th La Caixa / Plataforma prize for a juvenile novel

from the news:

The 22-year-old law student Mónica Baños recently won the La Caixa / Plataforma literary prize for her debut novel Donde desaparecen las estrellas, endowed with 3,000 EUR plus the novel’s publication.


publisher’s summary:

If there is anything that characterizes the small coastal village of Melía, it is the popular belief that the stars can influence the lives of its inhabitants.

Gala lives there, a young woman who spends her days working in a flowershop. Everything changes with the return of Néstor, one of her closest childhood friends. But Gala is not the same one any longer: a series of events that took place during the past year have turned her into a lonely and somewhat aloof person.

When she gets the opportunity to work for the local newspaper, and thus dispel the bad memories that torment her, she meets on her way with Constanza, an elegant elderly lady who brings to light secrets of Gala’s family that are colored by pain but above all by hope.

Gala will have to learn to pardon the ghosts of her past while she find the way to pardon herself.

SOURCE: CCMA (ANC news agency) May 2, 2018; La Caixa (savings bank); Plataforma (publisher)

Snippet: Madrid and Lisbon book fairs 2018

cartel flm18 de Paula Bonet

77th Madrid book fair, Parque de El Retiro (park), May 25 – June 10, 2018

special guest country: Romania

more information (in Spanish)

88ª Feira do Livro de Lisboa


88th Lisbon book fair, Parque Eduardo VII (park), May 25 – June 8, 2018

more information (in Portuguese)

In both cities one can visit book stalls during the afternoon and evening; there are readings, discussion, book signings and other special events, but normally one needs to master the local language to be able to follow these…

There is more information on the previous editions:

Madrid 2017, 20162015, 2014, 2013

Lisbon 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014


Snippet: Quim Monzó commenting on an article on strange bookmarks

The Catalan author Quim Monzó writes a regular op-ed column for La Vanguardia newspaper. On May 19, he commented on an article of The Guardian on strange bookmarks (“Bacon, cheese-slices and sawblades…”).

He summarised the article and described the situation as imagined there, adding his comments:

One understands the situation. You’re at home, having breakfast or lunch (or even dinner), reading a book. I know that this behaviour will be surprising for many people, because nowadays the usual thing at home when having breakfast, lunch or dinner, it to pass a finger over the screen of a smartphone or tablet. But I swear that I’m not inventing anything: there are people who read books while eating! And then it happens that the telephone rings [… (cf. article) and they have no bookmark at hand…]

And after the call, the reader doesn’t feel like eating the slice of cheese any longer, and as they regard it as dirty, they use it as a bookmark, then forget it, and when they return the book to the public library, the cheese is still inside.

[Monzó explains further details of the article and describes the bookmarks he uses, e.g. old metro tickets.]

Here we are lucky that the majority of people doesn’t go to the public library to check out books. They go there to connect to the WiFi, to use the multimedia spaces, or to use a computer. Thus, the librarians are spared from a lot of surprises when checking the returned books.

The Guardian article links to the blog Forgotten Bookmarks. Enjoy!

The Wikipedia offers this article on Quim Monzó that also lists his translated works.


SOURCE: (c)Quim Monzó, “Llibres, formatge i cansalada fumada,” La Vanguardia, May 19, 2018, p. 20 [printed edition]