Snippet: Manuel Forcano’s “Catalan Jews”

Manuel Forcano (Barcelona, 1968; philologist, poet, translator), Els jueus catalans. La història que mai no t’han explicat. [The Catalan Jews: the history they never told you], 384 pages.

The publisher’s summary:

This book gives an overview of the history of Jews in Catalonia, from the first mentioning to the current Jewish communities. When they arrived, where they settled, how they lived, who persecuted them and for which reasons, how they survived the attacks, where and how they prayed, how they organized themselves, which figures led them, what of them has survived, what they wrote and if they did so in Hebrew or Catalan – these are some of the questions that the book answers in an informative and entertaining way. During their century-long presence in Catalonia, from the Jewish communities arose geographers, grammaticians, physicians, poets, philosophers, theologians and kabbalists of enormous prestige, even today venerated in the Jewish world, but unfortunately hardly known in Catalonia.

• In the tenth century a jew from Tortosa wrote the first Hebrew dictionary.

• What is today’s Plaça de Catalunya [main square] in Barcelona was in the 12th century property of a jew.

• One of the first Catalan mayors of Lleida was a jew and held the post for 18 years.

• Up to the 13th century the city of Girona was called «Mare d’Israel» [Mother of Israel].

• In the Jewish quarters of Barcelona and Girona there existed two schools of Kabbalah that had great influence in the Jewish world.

• The first modern Jewish community of the Spanish state after 1492 was that of Barcelona.

A book to discover the importance and force of the Jewish legacy in Catalonia in history and until today.

The author (incomplete English bio) will present his book in a local public library tonight – that is how this blogger learnt about it …

SOURCE: Angle Editorial

Snippet: Prudenci Bertrana Award 2014

Antoni Pladevall (Taradell, Osona, 1961, writer and high-school teacher) won the 47th Premi Prudenci Bertrana, endowed with 30.000 EUR, for the novel El dia que vaig fer vuit anys [The day I became eight years old]. According to the author, it is a book of memories from age eight to 15, a series of intense recollections. All starts with his eighth birthday in a farmhouse in Taradell, when his god- and grandfather Ton weighed him on scales normally used for grain and assigned to him “a both physical and emotional weight”. It was as if from that day the author started to really live, to be aware of his own existence. The novel is divided into 30 short impressions that draw a portrait of this child, emotionally divided between fascination and shame, hope and fear. With indelible experiences such as a stonethrow into his sister’s left eye, the ruthless killing of scorpions in a hill in front of the house, the discovery of the first girl while he rode a bicylce, or the death of his grandfather Ton in a gardening accident. Pladevall considers the book an hommage to the generation of his parents and grandparents, who lived the greyness and imposed silence of the post-Civil War year, and a memory for the younger generations of a world that doesn’t exist any longer. The author maintains that a lot of the keys to his other books are in this work (to be published in November).

The Prudenci Bertrana is only one of several “literary prizes of Girona”. This year’s Miquel de Palol Poetry award went to Manuel Forcano (Barcelona, 1968, info) for Ciència exacta [Exact science]; the Carles Rahola Essay award went to Marta Rovira (Banyoles, 1969, sociologist, homepage) for a study that questions the official version of Spain’s “transitition” from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy. The 29th Ramon Muntaner juvenile literature award went to Francesc Puigpelat (Balaguer, 1959) for Romeo i Julieta, Segona part [Romeo and Juliet, part 2], a zombie version of Shakespeare’s drama.


SOURCE: La Vanguardia, Sept. 18, 2014