The Literary Saloon pointed my attention to a profile of Hispabooks in El Pais’s Trans-Iberian. The Madrid-based publisher has already put out a fantastic selection of new Spanish writers, including the award-winning Marcos Giralt Torrente’s Paris, which was excerpted in B O D Y earlier this year.
Unfortunately, the article brings in the tired “read these Spanish books to learn more about Spain” angle, rather than just because they’re great books. Seriously, imagine telling a kid that it doesn’t matter that he or she likes The Lord of the Rings so much but that it’s “important” he or she learns more about Middle-earth and Mordor. Spanish writers are writing fantastic books. We (journalists, publishers, whoever) don’t have to package these books with vitamins to try to sell them as being nutritious and educational. It’s enough that they contain enough sugar in the writing that they taste good.
Belarus in exile
The Financial Times has an interview with Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) co-founder Natalia Kaliada in which she talks of her exile from Belarus and the difficulties of making her home in London. “If democracy was to arrive, we’d open a big theatre in Belarus, and ask the friends we have made to share their great art with people there. After 20 years of information isolation, it would be time for Belarus to absorb the great works of art,” Kaliada says.
This gives me an opportunity to mention the excellent new documentary about the BFT Dangerous Acts. If you have a chance to see it, do. I’m surprised they didn’t mention it in the article.
Even more surprising was what came at the end of the article. Do you know how some online articles are followed by ad/pseudo articles with titles like “Ten Surefire Ways to Pick Up Girls” or “Australian Tech Startup Rakes in Billions!”, so, Kaliada’s interview about the hardships of exile is followed by this:
“What you can buy for . . .
£700,000 A two-bedroom maisonette with a communal garden in Notting Hill
£1m A two-bedroom Victorian terrace house with a large garden in Islington
£2m A five-bedroom Georgian townhouse off Upper Street, Islington”
I assumed this was a similar ad until I realized it was followed by Kaliada’s pros and cons of London. Seriously? I mean, that’s just weird, and a bit insensitive to boot, as Kaliada narrates where people have let her and her family stay in the UK over the years (hint: she hasn’t opted for option a,b or c in the “what you can buy for” list above). So I guess this was a rich person’s idea of how to show that London is expensive.
Photo – From Dangerous Acts