Catalans will remember one of their most distinguished inhabitants on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of his death.
Text and photos: Félix Eduardo Gutiérrez / EL CIUDANANO
Barcelona was one of the cities that left its mark on the life of Gabriel García Márquez. The Colombian writer lived in the Spanish metropolis for eight years, which he described as a “mythical memory”.
He arrived with his family on 4 November 1967.
The author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967) confessed later that in Barcelona he went through a profound metamorphosis: From poor to rich and from being an almost anonymous writer to a global celebrity. “The royalties I’m getting from this book are almost enough to live on!” he exclaimed with surprise. During his time in the city he maintained contacts with writers and revolutionaries all over the world.
He also planned, wrote and published many of his most famous books: “The Autumn of the Patriarch” (1975), “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother” (1972), “Strange Pilgrims” (1992) and “The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor” (1970).
Despite leaving the city in 1975, Gabo visited the capital of Catalonia frequently until the end of his days. His family have kept an apartment there, located very centrally near the Casa del Libro bookshop.
To remember the years when this famous guest mingled with the inhabitants of the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, Barcelona is preparing to dedicate a week of events in honour of the author born in Aracataca, Colombia.
The event “Traces of Gabo in Barcelona” will take place from 6 to 13 April, coorganised by the Colombian Consulate and Casa América Catalunya. It’s hoped that Latin American authors will attend to vindicate the legacy of the Nobel laureate in literature to have spent the longest length of time as one of the city’s residents.
The programme includes debates, workshops and walking tours on the subjects of literature, journalism and music over eight days, leading up to the fifth anniversary of the writer’s death on 17 April 2014.
Pilar Calderón, Colombian Consul in Barcelona, said that the idea came about when she heard from a journalist friend about the attempts to have Caponata Street in Barcelona renamed after García Márquez.
Other of the author’s admirers emphasised that since Barcelona was such an important city for the Colombian writer, it was not right to let his mark disappear and for people to not clearly understand it, as the newspaper La Vanguardia summarised in a short piece.
“We started to get a few things off the ground and one thing led to another. We wanted to highlight how important Barcelona was for Latin American literature at a certain point in time and still continues to be. It’s about valuing the link between the city and Latin American literature, so that it’s clearer in people’s minds and so they start asking, ‘Why Barcelona?’” said Calderón.
What we know of the programme so far suggests that on Monday 8 April there will be a gathering of some of the outstanding Latin American authors currently resident in Barcelona in the Casa América – Laura Restrepo, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Santiago Roncagliolo and Rodrigo Fresán – to debate why Barcelona is a magnet for writers and to establish the differences between now and the Latin American Boom.
On Wednesday 10, we can anticipate a debate entitled “Travelling to tell stories” in Jaume Fuster library where the speakers will discuss travel journalism, with Xavier Aldekoa, Africa correspondent for La Vanguardia, and the journalists Martín Caparrós, Mar Abad and June Fernández.
On Friday 12 April, an event at Casa América will see the influence of Caribbean fiction on music and on literature discussed by Jaime Abello, director of the García Márquez Foundation for New Iberian American Journalism (FNPI) and the narrative journalist Alberto Salcedo Ramos. Abello will also take part in the debate on Tuesday 9 April on “The journalism Gabo could not have imagined,” a talk that will address the technological challenges of the journalist’s role with Miquel Molina, deputy editor of La Vanguardia, and Pere Ortín, director of the Altaïr review, in Jaume Fuster library.
Casa América Catalunya is expected to lauch its “Gabo in Barcelona” route on April 6, focused on the Sarrià neighbourhood, where the honoured writer lived. Meanwhile, the Random House Flash imprint will publish an illustrated digital version of the short story “María Dos Prazeres” which García Márquez set in Barcelona.
Readers will be able to download the story for free for a few days after which it will be available for a special price. In coming months, it’s expected that a plaque will be put up on Caponata Street, subject to approval for the street or square to take the writer’s name.
(Translated by Elizabeth Dann – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)