A Sampling of Eight Authors from Catalonia to Discover
On October 1st, more than two million Catalans cast their ballots in a referendum for independence from Spain. Though Catalonia’s fight for independence is an enduring theme in the region’s history, this referendum was one of the more defining steps towards an independent republic. At around midnight on Sunday night, it was announced that approximately 90 percent of the two million people who voted chose independence. The Spanish government had deemed the referendum illegal, and the day was filled with violence as nearly 900 people were injured by the Spanish police, leaving many feeling that independence is necessary now more than ever. Two days after the referendum vote, Catalans took to the streets in order to demonstrate against the violence enforced by the Spanish government.
Catalonia is a region in the northeastern part of Spain, on the Mediterranean coast, spanning the Pyrenees and bordering with France. There are 7.5 million residents in Catalonia, 15 percent of the total population of Spain. The region is distinct both culturally and linguistically. Some famous Catalan cultural figures include Salvador Dalí, Antoni Gaudí, and Joan Miró. Though nearly all Catalans speak Spanish fluently, their language is more similar to the French dialect, Provençal, as well as Italian.
In 1931, Catalonia was given more autonomy from Spain when the country became a republic. However, under the dictator Francisco Franco, who came to power in 1939 and ruled Spain until 1975, the Catalan language, as well as all regional languages in Spain, were banned, and the culture was suppressed.
Given the recent events, the future of Catalonia is unclear, but the referendum and the police’s violent reaction has strengthened many Catalans’ determination for independence. Catalan authors have written about their distinct region in numerous novels and short stories. For a start, here are eight Catalan authors ranging from classic to contemporary, but do look out for other classics, with works by Caterina Albert, who wrote under the pen name of Victor Català, Montserrat Roig, and Pere Calders, and contemporary authors such as Marta Rojals, Jordi Puntí, or the creepy work of Marc Pastor. Other books to read about Catalonia by non-Catalan authors are George Orwell's classic Homage to Catalonia, in which he recounts the Spanish Civil War, Colm Tóibin's Homage to Barcelona, and Leonardo Padura's The Man Who Loved Dogs, which, while focusing on Leon Trotsky's life, also thoroughly explores the life of Rámon Mercader, Trotsky's murderer, who was a Catalan communist who fought in the Spanish Civil War.