Kinna Reads

A blog of books, reading and world literature

Catalan Literature in Translation : A Reading List

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The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

I got to know of  The Time of the Doves, a novel Mercè Rodoreda, through my mother who had received the book as a gift from a Catalan teacher and translator. First, I loved the book. Secondly, I was shocked that I’d never heard of Mercè Rodoreda or of any other Catalan writer. This is because I try very hard to include translated works in my reading and also try to keep abreast of the many and wonderful literary traditions across the globe. I obviously need to try harder :).

Catalunya (Catalonia in English) is one of the seventeen autonomous communities in the Kingdom of Spain. Its capital is Barcelona. Catalan is the native language of the region. The region has a long and fascinating history. During the Franco era (1939-1975), their nationalist aspirations became subsumed in the leftist and republican struggle and they were suppressed and oppressed during the period. Their history is quite fascinating and perhaps has contributed to a rich artistic culture. Notable Catalan artists include the painter Salvador Dali and the architect Antonio Gaudi.

So I’ve researched and I present below a list of novels by Catalan writers that are available in English. Please note that for the purposes of this list, I’m only interested in Catalan writers who write in their native language.

  • The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda
  • Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda
  • Carmelia Street by Mercè Rodoreda
  • The Enormity of the Tragedy by Quim Monzó
  • O’Clock by Quim Monzó
  • Gasoline by Quim Monzó
  • Stones in a Landslide by Maria Barbal
  • Solitude by Victor Català
  • Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez
  • The Towpath by Jesús Moncada
  • Winter Journey by Juame Cabre
  • A Not so Perfect Crime by Teresa Solana
  • The Doll’s Room by Llorenç Villalonga
  • I Love You When I Am Drunk by Empar Moliner
  • The Last Patriarch by Najat El-Hachmi
  • The White Knight, Tirant lo Blanc by Joanot Martorell and Martí Joan de Galba
  • The Virgin of the Railway and Other Stories by Pere Calders
  • A Matter of Self -Esteem and Other Stories by Carme Riera

This list is by no means exhaustive. What my research has uncovered is that Catalan literature is really vibrant and that the number of books translated into English is a minuscule percent of Catalan books in publication. Of course. Catalan literature may be one of the well-kept secrets in European literature.

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Author: Kinna

I'm a bibliophile who reads and reviews international, contemporary and classic literary fiction. I'm partial to the works of African women writers.

17 thoughts on “Catalan Literature in Translation : A Reading List

  1. What a list! It looks like there truly is a vibrant literary scene there. After your post about The Time of the Doves I think I’ll have to explore the area myself at some point.

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  2. I ve heard of couple of these kinna ,spanish lit so vibrant ,all the best

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  3. I love the fact that you’ve made a list of this. I have only read Stone in a Landslide, but I definitely want to read more Catalan literature.

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  4. That is a great list you have made. Catalan literature is indeed a rarity, at least I haven’t come across these books but would love to read them if I find them. By the way, a great blog you have here. I am being educated in books from so many different cultures! Wonderful collection, adding you to my blogroll :)

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  5. Hi,

    It is great to see such a good list and research. As you mention, the Catalan literature is very rich, being one of the languages that publishes more books. I;m sure the list would be much longer, but it is a very good list.

    I can suggest a modern one, wouldn’t be so difficult to find, it is cold “Col Skin” from Albert Sanchez Pinol and it is quite difficult to stop reading:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/apr/23/fiction.features3

    Anyway, if anybody is interested in poetry, we also have fantastic poets, here there is a link with a lots of Catalan poems translated to English:

    http://lletra.uoc.edu/especials/folch/

    By the way, you have got a very interesting blog.

    Josep

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  6. Sorry, I’ve just realised that Cold Skin was already in the list :)

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  7. Thank you so much for this list – I am setting out for Spain next month so it’s probably a bit late for me to read any before I go but I’ll take the list with me and hopefully be able to get my hands on one or other of them while I’m there.
    Lisa

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  8. Thank you for sharing, Kinna!

    Here is a link to an article about Rodoreda and Carmen Laforet:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/domestic-existentialist-mercegrave-rodoreda

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  9. Hi Kinna,
    I have just finished reading The Dolls Room by Llorenc Villalonga. I cannot see from your list if you have read any more books from Catalonia besides the ones you have written a review on?

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  10. Hello, please add Under The Dust by Jordi Coca, Look Me in the Eye by Silvia Soler and Black Beach – 3 Catalan Plays, all published by Parthian Books. Also Tugs in the Fog, poems by Joan Margarit (Bloodaxe Books). Thank you for starting this list. Catalan literature is worth reading!

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  11. great that you made this list. I am looking for a book to buy for Sant Jordi and needed some ideas on Catalan writers. I am a stumbling catalan speaker and live here near Barcelona. My partner and I read a book together to help me with the language and as it takes so long to get through each one it seems a good idea to buy one a year and Sant Jordi is the day! Will take a look at your site – it looks so tempting! Kate

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    • A stumbling Catalan Speaker is much better and more privileged than a non-Catalan speaker like myself. I keep up a meagre list of Spanish words in vocabulary; that’s a close as this African is to Catalan! Keep it up and good luck.

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  12. Pingback: 10 Short Story Collections to Read in 2014 | Kinna Reads

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