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Book fairs cancelled, bookstores closed, book launches postponed … these are but some of the consequences suffered by the publishing sector during the coronavirus pandemic and which have had a direct impact on writers. On the other hand, writers usually favour working in isolation. Three well known Spanish writers review how they have faced this period of confinement to continue carrying out their work and what the outlook facing the world of creation is.
They are Carme Riera, writer and academician at the RAE (Spanish Royal Academy), with a long history as an essayist, short story writer and novelist whether in literary fiction or in historical or detective genres. She has garnered numerous awards such as the Nacional de las Letras in 2015. A bilingual writer in Catalan and Spanish, she translates her own work, among them Naturaleza casi muerta, Tiempo de inocencia (autobiographical), La voz de la sirena or Vengaré tu muerte, the most recently published.
Julia Navarro is a journalist and writer. She came to the fore in literature with La hermandad de la Sábana Santa which was published in 30 countries and swiftly became a best seller. The success of her books, which became regular in the best seller lists, drove her to set aside her very successful career in journalism. Among her novels are Dime quién soy, Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto or the most recent, Tú no matarás.
Care Santos is a writer and literary critic, who won the Nadal prize in 2017 for her novel Media vida. She has garnered awards and distinctions for both her work as a writer of adult fiction as well as children and youth. Habitaciones cerradas (which was adapted for television), La muerte de Venus or El aire que respiras are some of her work. Todo el bien y todo el mal is her most recent novel.
Daniel Fernández, Publisher and President of CEDRO, moderates the debate.
Photography of Carme Riera: © F.Moreno
Photography of Julia Navarro: © Juan Manuel Fernández, courtesy of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial
Photography of Care Santos: © Joan Cortadellas Huguet
Photography of Daniel Fernández: © P. Moreno
In 1605, the kingdoms of Spain and England signed a peace treaty. Two delegations were set up to travel to each country. William Shakespeare was included in the English delegation, which could have stopped in Valladolid, where Cervantes lived at the time. What might have happened if the two geniuses of the two languages with the greatest global reach had met? What would they have talked about? How would they have liked one another? This is what Jesús Ruiz Mantilla explores in his latest book: El encuentro ¿Y si Cervantes y Shakespeare se hubieran conocido? (The Encounter: What if Cervantes and Shakespeare had met?) He talks about this with the journalist, television presenter and writer Lara Siscar.
Elvira Lindo has turned her parents into literary characters in her latest book, A corazón abierto, a tribute to the generation of children who lived through the civil war and withstood hardship during the post war. This fictional portrayal of her parents’ love story is for many her best work yet. She acknowledges that the book has been therapeutic. Once again, she deftly manages to present the story from different perspectives, be it as an essay, novel or screenplay. Lindo will always be remembered as the literary mother of Manolito Gafotas, who is more than a character of children’s fiction, he’s a member of the family for many readers. A regular contributor in press and radio, her fictional output, aside from the Manolito Gafotas collection, includes novels such as El otro barrio, Una palabra tuya (One word from you--Biblioteca Breve award) and Lo que me queda por vivir. Last year she published an insightful essay, 30 maneras de quitarse el sombrero (30 ways to take off one’s hat), in which she pays homage to 30 indomitable women, from Maruja Mallo to Mary Beard, who were forced to defy the establishment to make their mark in the world. Some of her novels have been turned into film.
Elvira Lindo will talk with the journalist and writer Inés Martín Rodrigo, author of Azules son las horas.
Elvira Lindo’s photography © Ricardo Martín, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Inés Martín Rodrigo’s photography: © Isabel Permuy, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Since its launch 16 years ago, the publishing house Caballo de Troya has focussed on young authors who have entered public debate on social change through their work, in matters of gender, class, sustainability… Since its first director Constantino Bértolo handed over the baton, the house has invited young writers and publishers to fill the post temporarily, acting as curators who provide a new look and, with their contributions, shape the world of publishing. At present, this role falls on the poet and publisher Luna Miguel (La tumba del marinero, Los estómagos, El arrecife de las sirenas) and the cultural journalist and writer Antonio J. Rodríguez (Fresy Cool, Vidas perfectas, Candidato). At Hay Festival, they will speak with four authors who have had work recently published by them:
Aixa de la Cruz, writer and playwright and already a consolidated figure who has published novels -- Cuando fuimos los mejores, En la línea del frente, De música ligera and Cambiar de idea -- and a book of short stories Modelos animales which was adapted for the stage.
Víctor Parkas, cultural journalist and narrator. Through his novel Game boy, he delves into the feminist debate providing a vision of new masculinity.
Anna Pacheco, author of Listas, guapas, limpias in which she addresses subjects such as class and gender consciousness. Aside from writing, she conducts workshops on feminism with teenagers.
José Ignacio Carnero, lawyer and writer. Author of Ama, a novel in which he revisits his youth in Portugalete (Bilbao) in what is known as the Margen Izquierda, he pays homage to the figure of his mother and so many working class women of her generation.
Ana Merino’s name has been at the forefront thanks to her prolific output in poetry until the release of her novel El Mapa de los Afectos which earned her the most recent Nadal award. The story delves into the daily mysteries of a small rural community. A member of the Generación Poética del 2000 she has garnered prestigious awards such as the Adonais (Preparativos para un viaje), the Fray Luis de Léon (Juegos de niños) and has been a runner up for the Gil de Biedma (Curación). She obtained a PhD in Latin American and Spanish Literature from the University of Pittsburgh with a thesis on comic books in Latin America. She established the Master of Fine Arts in Spanish Creative Writing programme at the University of Iowa where she’s a professor.
The Colombian wordsmith Ángela Becerra has received critical acclaim for her creative output, whether in advertising, in which she worked until 2000, or as a writer to which she dedicates all of her time now, except for the occasional foray into drawing, painting or playwriting. Her literary work falls in the realm of magic idealism. As a novelist, she has just been awarded the Fernando Lara award for Algún día, hoy. She explores the life of Betsabé Espinal who at the age of 23 became the heroine of one of the first feminist strikes in history. Other celebrated works include Ella que todo lo tuvo (Planeta-Casa de América Award), El penúltimo sueño (Azorín prize) or Alma abierta.
Ana Merino and Ángela Becerra talk with the journalist Jesús Vigorra, director and presenter of Canal Sur Radio’s Las mañanas programme.
Ana Merino’s photography: © Xavier Torres Baccheta, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Ángela Becerra’s photography: © Arduino Vannucchi, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Jesús Vigorra’s photography: courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Coorganised with Grupo Planeta and Banco Sabadell Foundation. With the collaboration of José Manuel Lara Foundation, AC/E and Segovia City Council.
“Skin is degree zero of our understanding of people” says Spanish writer Sergio del Molino with regards to his most recent book La piel (Skin), which has just been released. Del Molino reflects on illness and its influence on our relations with the world. And he does so from a personal perspective: he suffers from psoriasis, like Stalin or Che Guevara to whom he alludes in the book, crossing literary genres between essay, reported speech and journal. A technique he employed in La España vacía, the book that vaulted him onto the ranks of authors in the “most read” lists. His perspective brought to the fore the topic of rural abandon and large urban concentrations facing growing deserts and the consequences that derive for the life of all human beings and the future of a sustainable planet. It was not the first time the author tackles health issues, whether one’s own or others’. He did so in La hora violeta, in which he narrated with firmness and tenderness the illness and death of his son Pablo, a book for which he was awarded the Tigre Juan and El Ojo Crítico. Del Molino has also written short stories (Malas influencias), novels (No habrá más enemigo, La mirada de los peces, Lo que a nadie le importa) and essays (Lugares fuera de sitio). He’s a regular contributor in newspapers and audiovisual media. A selection of his features and articles are collected in El restaurante favorito de Nina Hagen.
Sergio del Molino talks with the Venezuelan writer and journalist Karina Sainz Borgo, author of books on journalism such as Caracas hip-hop, Tráfico y Guaire and El país y sus intelectuales. Last year, she published La hija de la española, her first work of fiction which Time magazine included in its 100 must-read books for 2019. She has worked for various media outlets among them Vozpopuli, Zenda and Onda Cero.
In case of rain, the event will take place at the same time inside the Torreón de Lozoya
Sergio del Molino’s photography: © Patricia J. Garcinuño, courtesy of Penguin Random House
Karina Sainz Borgo’s photography: © Jeosm, courtesy of Penguin Random House
Manuel Vilas was a cult author from Aragón who became a literary sensation in 2018 with the publication of Ordesa, a cathartic autobiography crafted in novel format which sold over 100,000 copies in 14 print runs in a matter of a year. This work of self-fiction was named book of the year by newspapers such as La Vanguardia, El País, El Mundo or El Correo. He had previously published novels (España, Aire nuestro, Los inmortales, Lou Reed era español) short stories (Zeta, Magia, Setecientos millones de rinocerontes), poetry (Las arenas de Libia, Resurrección, Gran Vilas, El hundimiento) essays (La región intermedia), journals (Dos años felices, Listen to me) and travel books (América). His literary endeavours in the search for the self, the critique of culture and pop idols interweave with the limits of reality and fiction and have garnered awards such as the Femina Etranger, the Generación del 27, the Gil de Biedma or the Fray Luis de León. Vilas is also a regular contributor in media such as the Grupo Vocento dailies, Babelia, and Cadena Ser. In his latest novel, Alegría – finalist for the Premio Planeta –, he sets his exploration of the paths of memory within the history of his country and generation. He lives between Madrid and Iowa City. Vilas speaks with Fátima Uribarri, features writer of XL Semanal weekly magazine.
Photography of Manuel Vilas: © Arduino Vannucchi, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Photography of Fátima Uribarri: courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Coorganised with Grupo Planeta and Banco Sabadell Foundation. With the collaboration of Segovia City Council and AC/E
With Tierra, the most recent and fifth novel of his career, Eloy Moreno has confirmed his capacity for attracting readers. Iceland is the backdrop of this story, which is a fierce criticism of the entertainment industry and the fraudulent use of social media. The work appeals for a more sustainable world. But the author does not particularly want to spell out what his novel is; he would rather readers who’ve been stalwart supporters from the beginning decide for themselves. Eloy Moreno came to the forefront of the editorial landscape in Spain by the arduous route of self-publishing. He managed to sell more than 200,000 copies of El bolígrafo de gel verde (The Green Gel Pen), a success that enabled him to lure a publisher for Lo que encontré bajo el sofá (What I Found Under the Sofa), with which he reconnected with tens of thousands of readers. He has a following that literally tags along with him as he travels through Toledo reliving the plot of the book in which he talks about double standards. He then published two further novels, El regalo (The Gift) and Invisible.
The novel is compulsory reading in schools and won the Yoleo award for reading for young people. He has also published three volumes of Cuentos para entender el mundo (Tales to understand the world), stories aimed at both adults and children that has just been relaunched by Ediciones B.
Eloy Moreno’s photography: © Natalia Madera
Good Luck (La buena suerte) is not always down to a matter of luck. Or at least that’s what it seems from Rosa Montero’s latest novel, which with its beguiling and yet mysterious title leads us into a mind-boggling tale of persecutions and lies about Good and Evil, how Good triumphs despite it all and how good luck is something one has to earn. Since her first novel, Chronicle of a heartbreak (Crónica del desamor) was released in 1979, the writer from Madrid has published close to fifty works spanning novels, essays, short stories and journalism.
She has garnered several awards, among them the Nacional de las Letras Españolas in 2017 for many of her works including La hija del caníbal, La loca de la casa (crafted in a genre that straddles between reality and fiction, one of her hallmarks), El rey Transparente, Instrucciones para salvar el mundo, La ridícula idea de no volver a verte or La carne. Her impertinently inquisitive detective Bruna Husky has to date generated three books: Lágrimas en la lluvia, El peso del corazón and Los tiempos del odio. Her long and intense work as a journalist has also brought in awards such as the Club Internacional de Prensa or the Manuel Alcántara de la Universidad de Málaga. She is known for her defence of human rights and the quest for equality for women.
Rosa Montero will speak with the writer and journalist Nuria Labari, who made a name for herself in the realm of literature with her short story book Los borrachos de mi vida for which she obtained Caja de Madrid narrative award. She also wrote the novels Cosas que brillan cuando están rotas and La mejor madre del mundo. She features in the Pequeñas resistencias anthology by Andrés Neuman.
Rosa Montero’s photography: © Alejandro Ruesga, courtesy of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial
Nuria Labari’s photography: courtesy of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial
Coorganised with Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial. With the collaboration of Segovia City Council and AC/E
Few authors can lay claim to having created a mythical realm and an intense and extensive volume of a work. Luis Mateo Díez belongs to this exclusive club. He transports us to the Kindgom of Celama, with its light and shade, as well as voices and echoes of the living and the dead. Mateo Díez’s literary landscape, however, is much broader and his inventiveness and creativity seem to have no boundaries, as demonstrated by an output of some fifty published works. La fuente de la edad, the novel that introduced him to a broad scope of readers, won the Crítica and the Nacional de Narrativa awards in 1986; two awards he would earn again in 2000 for La ruina del cielo. Some of his novels, such as those in the Celama cycle (El espíritu del páramo, the aforementioned La ruina del cielo and El oscurecer) have gained their place as must reads in the cannon of contemporary literature. Días del desván captures the experiences of his youth in the provincial setting of Laciana in León. Mateo Díez has the special ability to transmit emotions, and nothing humane is alien to him as shown in novels such as La gloria de los niños, La piedra en el corazón or the short stories in El fulgor de la pobreza. He has also ventured into types of narrative and written essays, poetry and stage plays. In his recent work such as La cabeza en llamas (Francisco Umbral prize for the Book of the Year), Vicisitudes, Juventud de cristal or Los ancianos siderales, which will be released shortly, he demonstrates once again his rich, fluid and precise command of language, a talent that likens him to Miguel Delibes, who will be remembered in this event commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Since 2001, Mateo Díez chairs the letter “I” of the Real Academia Española.
He speaks with journalist and writer Angélica Tanarro in this event presented by Fernando Zamácola, Director of the Foundation Miguel Delibes.
In case of rain, the event will take place at the same time inside the Palacio de Quintanar
Photography of Luis Mateo Díez: © Jeosm
Coorganised with Miguel Delibes Foundation. With the collaboration of Castilla y León Government and Palacio de Quintanar
The career of the most recent winner of the Premio Planeta reached a turning point in 2001 when his novel Soldiers of Salamis (Soldados de Salamina) was published in more than 20 countries and translated into 30 languages, spring-boarding him to international fame and prestige. Hitherto known as a doctor in Spanish Philology, he combined his fictional endeavours with the publication of articles in specialised media and literature lessons at the University of Girona. He would subsequently publish The Speed of Light (La velocidad de la luz), The Anatomy of a Moment (Anatomía de un instante) which earned him the National Prize for Narrative, among other awards, The Impostor (El impostor), El monarca de las sombras, and then Terra alta, for which he received the most important literary award in Spanish, the Premio Planeta. In this novel, Cercas ventures into the realm of thrillers in a story about the value of law and possibility of justice. Las leyes de la frontera, is a testimonial novel in which reality melds with fiction. Recent historical events such as the Civil War and the Transition frame stories in which characters seek to find their place in the world. This writer from Extremadura who settled in Catalonia at the age of four is a columnist for the daily El País, has also written essays (El cine de Gonzalo Suárez) and translated work by H. G. Wells and Sergi Pámies, among others. Javier Cercas talks with Ana Gavín, Director of Editorial Affairs for Grupo Planeta.
In the case of rain, the event will take place at the same time at the Teatro Juan Bravo
Photography of Javier Cercas: © Arduino Vannucchi, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Photography of Ana Gavín: © Ricardo Martín, courtesy of Grupo Planeta
Coorganised with Grupo Planeta and Banco Sabadell Foundation. With the collaboration of Segovia City Council
In February Maribel López became the Managing Director of ARCO, one of the most important contemporary art fairs in the world. However, this art historian and curator of exhibitions was no stranger to the festival with which she has been associated since 2102 as marketing director and programme curator. Her career has always been linked to galleries, having run her own art centre in Berlin. She also participated in the Estrany-de la Mota project in Barcelona and worked alongside the curating teams of Creatures and The Office.
Caniche Editorial specialises in publishing artist’s books and the production of “assaults”—disrupting solutions that shatter through conventional circuits, thus enabling contemporary art initiatives from writing to plastic arts, including architecture, photography, installations and performances. The directors Carlos Copertone and Patxi Eguiluz join the conversation.
In case of rain, the event will take place at the same time inside the Torreón de Lozoya.
Photographs of Maribel López and Caniche Editorial: courtesy of Around Art
Coorganised with Around Art. With the collaboration of Arco, Caniche Editorial and Caja Segovia Foundation
González Sainz likes crossing boundaries, whether in literature or in life. Not surprisingly for a time he alternated his residence in border cities such as Trieste and Soria and his narrative skirts well-trodden paths and current trends. He studied philology, and he became known as a writer with Un mundo exasperado, which earned him the Anagrama award for novel. He had previously published short stories (Los encuentros) like his latest release, El viento en las hojas. Other novels of his are Volver al mundo, for which he received the Castilla y León de las Letras award and Ojos que no ven. He has translated Italian intellectuals such as Emmanuelle Severino, Guido Ceronetti, Daniele del Giudice, Ennio Flaiano and his friend Claudio Magris. He also taught literature at the university of Ca’Foscari in Venice, where he lived for two decades. His work seeks to understand the world through profound contemplation.
Valladolid is a point of departure and return for Alejandro Cuevas. The city is his particular frontier. He has a degree in Spanish and then obtained a Masters in the History and Aesthetic of Filmmaking, another Master in Management of Culture and the Economics of Culture and a Master of Arts from the University of Florida. But despite all his academic endeavours, he considers himself to have taught himself. Six years living in the United States has given him the necessary distance to be able to look at his country, which is reflected in his most recent works. Humour, sometimes acid, is a hallmark of his writing. He has published five novels: Comida para perros (1999), La vida no es un auto sacramental (1999, runner-up Premio Nadal and Premio Ojo Crítico), La peste bucólica (2003), Quemar las naves (2004, Premio Rejadorada) and Mi corazón visto desde el espacio (2019), a bittersweet portrait of that Spanish youth with brilliant schooling and a dark future. His many short stories compiled in Mariluz and a long list that have obtained awards such as Café Compás, Ciudad de Torremolinos or 21 de marzo among many others.
González Sainz and Cuevas talk with the journalist and writer Angélica Tanarro.
In case of rain, the event will take place at the same time inside the Palacio de Quintanar
Reyes Monforte’s latest novel, Postales del Este, is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp in the midst of World War II. In September 1943, the young Ella arrives from the Darcy internment camp in France. Maria Mandel and Josef Mengele discover that she speaks several languages and her handwriting is impeccable, so they assign her to be the copyist for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Women’s Orchestra as well as to Kanada Block, the warehouse where all of the belongings of the detainees were classified. She comes across postcards and photographs that the prisoners carried in their luggage and decides to write the names of those murdered so no one forgets who they were. This novel about memory and identity is the eighth for this writer and journalist who came to the fore in the field of literature with Trapped by Love (Un burka por amor), which has over 60 editions and was turned into a television series reaching an audience of over 4.5 million viewers. She would later publish Amor cruel, La rosa escondida, La infiel, Besos de arena, Una pasión rusa (for which she was bestowed the Alfonso X el Sabio historic novel award ) and La memoria de la Lavanda, which hit the best-seller lists. As a journalist, she started out in Luis del Olmo’s Protagonistas show and has worked for Onda Cero and Punto Radio stations as well as on various television programmes. She has a column in La Razón newspaper.
She speaks with Jesús García Calero, culture writer, Culture Editor for ABC daily and author of Don Juan contra Franco.
Photography of Reyes Monforte © Paco Navarro, courtesy of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial
Photography of Jesús García Calero: © Jeosm
Coorganised with Penguin Random House. With the collaboration of Teatro Juan Bravo, Provincial Government of Segovia and ABC Newspaper
The loss of happiness in a world in decline. This is the central theme of the latest novel by French writer Jean Paul Dubois which last year snatched the most prestigious literary award in the French language. His novel, Tous les hommes n'habitent pas le monde de la même façon, which one could say foreshadowed the uncertainty that would come later, won the Prix Goncourt with the story of Paul Hansen, who looks back at his life and reflects on injustice and fraternity from his prison cell in Quebec. Among his other 21 books are Kennedy et moi (France Télévisions award), Le cas Sneijder and Si ce livre pouvait me rapprocher de toi, all three of which have been made into films, as well as A French Life (Vie Francçaise) ( Femina and Fnac awards) and Vous plaisantez, monsieur Tanner. He has also worked as a journalist and published articles in Le Nouvel Observateur.
Dubois talks with Carmen Posadas, celebrated author of novels, writer of children’s stories and essays. Among her most notable works which have been translated into more than 25 languages are Five Blue Flies (Cinco moscas azules), Little Indiscretions (Pequeñas infamias) which earned the Premio Planeta and La hija de Cayetana. Her work as a journalist has earned her the Premio Iberoamericano de Periodismo Rey Felipe. She’s currently a columnist in the weekly magazine XLSemanal. Alongside her brother Gervasio, she runs an online writing course.
Mr Dubois will participate via video link, while Ms Posadas will be on stage.
Photography of Jean Paul Dubois © Xavier de Fenoyl
Coorganised with Grupo Anaya, Adn Alianza de Novelas, Institut Français and the Embassy of France in Spain