(By Meritxell Doncel).- We recommend three good reads in which English writers talk about the Catalans and vice versa. Well, well, an Anglo-Catalan exchange!
Catalan and English cultures are in constant contact, with stronger links than we realise, going well beyond football finals and children’s parties organised on the coast.
As you’d expect, you can find loads of Catalan writers musing on their experiences in England and English writers musing on us over here…. We’ve picked three books.
Our first recommendation is the writer Matthew Tree’s Com explicar aquest país als estrangers (Columna Edicions), a compilation of his published articles as well as transcripts of the talks he has given Anglo-Saxon audiences over the years.
His texts, which are packed with anecdotes as well as present-day and historical facts, betray his resentment of “the prevailing ignorance abroad” regarding a country he considers “fascinating”.
“Informed foreigners living over here know only too well how much harder it is to explain Catalonia (and I don’t mean the Països Catalans or Catalan-language territories) to their fellow countrymen than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle”, Tree explains in his book.
Our second recommendation was published three months ago, Carme Riera’s L’estiu de l’anglès (Ed. Proa). Remember how you studied English? The method you used? If you ever learnt it, that is!
Well, whatever, you’ll find yourself identifying with the novel’s main character, Riera. She’s a Barcelona estate agent who’s fed up with seeing her poor command of English putting paid to her professional advancement and is set on spending her August vacations on an intensive language course in a remote English village. Her teacher, with whom she lives in a remote countryside location, has bizarre methods…
Bilingual stories for improving English and Catalan
The writers Elena Moya, Eva Garcia-Mayers, Tony Tysoe, Georgina Tremayne, K. K. Gooden, Anna Chieppa and Jessica Rainey will be helping you to refresh your level of English (or Catalan, if you’re English) through their bilingual stories.
They appear in the book Big Magic (Arola Editors), with a preface by the journalist Antoni Bassas, where these stories are presented in both English and Catalan versions, on facing pages, so you can read in both languages at the same time or quickly find the meaning of a word, just by taking a look at the facing page.
“Here’s a book that links Catalonia to England (and the Anglophone world) through a series of short stories and from a present-day perspective: what memories do tourists take home with them? And what is it like living in both countries, moving from one language to the other, and from one love to another etc.? Are they really so keen on Catalonia and Barcelona? Well, yes they are, to judge by phrases like ‘how could anyone feel unhappy here?’ and ‘perfection was finally here'”, Bassas says.