In need of a new book? Here are four books that will up your knowledge of Barcelona,; one of the most culturally rich cities in Europe.
1. Homage to Catalonia
The well-traveled George Orwell is best known for his books Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four. Born in India he spent some of his life in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and from his time there the book Homage to Catalonia (1938) was born: “Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the anarchists: every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle … Down the Ramblas … the loudspeakers were bellowing revolutionary songs.”
2. Homage to Barcelona
A book with a similar name by a contemporary author is Homage to Barcelona (2002) written by Colm Tóibín. Colm moved to Barcelona in 1975 when he was twenty. Even before he left his native Ireland he had vast knowledge about the country he would call home. Some critics have described this book as “a sensuous and beguiling portrait of a unique Mediterranean port and an adopted home.” This book explores the factual history of this city, moving from its foundations, it’s artists, the lives of Gaudí, Miró, Picasso, Casals and Dali through to nationalism, civil war and the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
3. The Time of the Doves
Next on the list is Mercè Rodoreda, The Time of the Doves (1962). If you want a good reason to read this book then you might like to know that Gabriel Garcia Marquez learned Catalan just by reading this novel. He called it “the most beautiful novel published in Spain since the Civil War.” It is not your usual account of the civil war, there is no fighting or scenes from the front. We learn about the war from the perspective of a woman whose husband is fighting with the Republicans while she works hard to feed herself and her two children.
4. The City of Marvels
Eduardo Mendoza was born in Barcelona in 1943. He wrote The City of Marvels (1986), a tale about a boy who rises from abject poverty to riches and power, and of Barcelona’s growth from a small provincial capital into a metropolitan city. “The traveler who comes to Barcelona for the first time soon notices where the old city ends and the new begins. The streets become straight and wide instead of winding: the pavements, less crowded; tall plane trees shade them pleasantly; the buildings are more distinguished … another city.”