The best fiction and non-fiction written on the city
By staff writer
Don’t forget your reading glasses when you board the plane… we’ve got the skivvy on some great literature and non-fiction that will give you a great insight into the unique history and character of the Catalan capital.
There are few finer things in life, in our cultured opinion, than reading a great book in the country it was set in. What could be more romantic than taking the Trans-Siberian rail crossing armed with a copy of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago? How much more fun is it to read Kerouac whilst grappling with your own road trip across the expanses of the United States than in your local library (while irritating children fight over the last copy of Harry Potter)? And which learned traveller would set foot in North Africa without packing a copy of Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, or maybe even an edition of Herodotus?
On this page we intend to take a look at the great novels and non-fiction written about Barcelona (and more broadly Catalonia and Spain), so that you can enjoy like us the simple pleasure of retiring to a quiet cafe with George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, taking Robert Hughes’ superb biography of the city, Barcelona to Barceloneta beach (maybe stopping off at a chiringuito for a mojito and more page turning just for good measure), reclining in the evening sun with a copy of Don Quixote, the masterpiece of Spain’s great bard Miguel de Cervantes, in Citadel Park, or melting into the furniture of your flatwith a volume of Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s astonishing The Shadow of the Wind. Pure bliss!
As well as reviews of all our favourite novels and non-fiction set in around Barcelona and Spain, we’ll also point you in the direction of the best guidebooks to Barcelona as well! Click on the individual titles for full reviews.
Probably the most famous and popular work of fiction associated with this city right now, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s storming bestseller is a love letter to both Barcelona and literature itself. The novel’s hero, the spunky but naive Daniel Sempere, has a lot of growing up to do as he chases the ghost of Julian Carax around town having discovered the last worldly copy of the missing novelist’s masterpiece, The Shadow of the Wind.
Spain’s number one scribe sets Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza loose on the Spanish countryside for a romp of epic proportions. Click for full review of the world’s first modern novel and its brief, but important, association with Barcelona.
Published in 2010, From Barcelona: Stories Behind the City is a collection of ten short stories by well-known blogger and writer Jeremy Holland. In this decology of tales the reader encounters everyone from Sant Jordi the Dragon Slayer to Johnny the English teacher, and learns a helluva lot about Barcelona along the way. Full review.
The 20th century’s most influential author, the man who penned Animal Farm and 1984, had his first brushes with Communism in Spain. (In fact he fought for one of the many Communist factions against the fascists). Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell’s account of the Spanish Civil War and the small part he played in it. It is remarkable for the author’s objectivity in a war where ‘the greater good’ threatened to kill all semblance of truth. A fascinating insight into the politics of the world’s bloodiest century.
Review of Robert Hughes’ Barcelona coming soon!
Reviews of Barcelona City Guide by Lonely Planet and more of the best guidebooks by all your favourite publishers coming soon!
Books Related to Catalonia & Spain
We’ll be adding reviews of books by great Spanish and Catalan authors soon, as well as famous foreign chroniclers – including of course Ernest Hemingway – shortly.
Bookshops in the City
If you’re shopping for books about Barcelona, or for English-language literature in general then we can thoroughly recommend you check out the superb second-hand book store that is Hibernian Books.