Next Saturday is April 23rd, the World Book Day. On that day, you’ll probably be strolling about the book parades set on Barcelona streets and wondering which Book should you buy for yourself or for someone else. We want to help you with some ideas: 6 of the most renowned novels set in Barcelona where the city, its atmosphere and mood become an essential part of the story.
Cathedral of the Sea (La Catedral del Mar) by Ildefonso Falcones (2006)
It is a historical novel set in the golden age of 14th-century Barcelona. It tells the story of the city in the Middle Ages through the eyes of the protagonist, a stone-worker who is working on the magnificent cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar and his brother, who studies to become a priest. A story of love, war, friendship and revenge, a best-seller in Catalonia, it might remind you Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.
The City of Marvels (La Ciudad de los Prodigios) by Eduardo Mendoza (1986)
In a time where Barcelona was growing fast and becoming a wealthy city, in the age of Modernism, is where this story is set, more precisely at the time of its two World Fairs in 1888 and 1929. It is Mendoza’s most acclaimed novel and it is a portrait of the urban and social evolution of Barcelona in a crucial time of its growth.
The Time of the Doves (La Plaça del Diamant) by Mercè Rodoreda (1962)
Mercè Rodoreda is one of the most renowned authoress in Catalan language of all times and The Time of the Doves, probably her most famous novel. The novel is set before, during and after the Spanish Civil in Gràcia district (the original name is a very popular square in Gràcia, Plaça del Diamant). Through the story of young woman’s struggles in life narrated with a mixture of psychologism and naturalism, it faithfully depicts the life if the city at that time.
Nada by Carmen Laforet (1945)
Another story written by a woman about a young woman living in Barcelona after the war. It is one of the most important literary works of post-Civil War Spain and among the best 100 works of Spanish literature. The authoress was only 23 years old when he wrote the book and Nada is said to be a semiautobiographical. The Eixample Disctrict, where the protagonist lives and the Old University in the city center are the main settings of the book.
The Shadow of the Wind (La Sombra del Viento) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001)
This book is probably the best-seller in Catalonia of the 30 years. It is set in the years after the Civil War and it portrays Barcelona in detail as the main characters goes all over the city following a lead to a secret. The characters portrayed are also very typical of the place and the time.
Murder in the Central Committee (Asesinato en el Comité Central) by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
Manuel Vázquez Montalbán was one of the most loved writers in the last decades. He was also a charismatic character in the society and the media, admired and loved by many. Among his works, stand out his detective stories with protagonist Pepe Carvalho. The crimes and investigations of the novels are set in Barcelona, so the reader embarks in a journey through the city following detective Carvalho’s steps. Montalbán published 25 books of Carvalho’s stories. Murder in the Central Committee is one of them, but any of these stories are well worth a read and very hard to put down. Anybody who has ever visited Barcelona will recognize many of the street names and buildings featured in the series.