Books about Barcelona, Spain – a selection
Barcelona is a city that, since the advent of cheap flights and weekend City breaks, has become one of the tourist “hot spots” of Europe. Gaudi. Las Ramblas, the Barri Gotic and pickpockets loom large in the minds of most foreigners along with Catalan nationalism and Barca’s sublime football.
Books4Spain has over 120 books which are about Barcelona or which are set in Barcelona. The majority are travel guides from Dorling Kindersley, Time Out, Frommers and Lonely Planet amongst others but it is also a city that has been the inspiration behind a number of novels, short stories, crime thrillers, mystery stories, real life accounts and cookery and recipe books.
Here we provide a selection of some of these non-travel related books about Barcelona and which are available on Books4Spain.
Short Stories about Barcelona
From Barcelona by Jeremy Holland
From Barcelona is a collection of twelve short stories inspired by this cryptic Mediterranean metropolis, where haunted flats overlook leafy squares and feline temptresses lurk in smoky bars. Experience Antoni Gaudi’s frustrations as he sought to revolutionize architecture, and discover the legend behind the man who squats with his belt around his ankles hidden in nativity scenes. These are just a few of the characters and tales you can expect, all set in a literary world of churches, dragons and roses.
The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
Colm Tóibín’s second collection of short stories (after Mothers and Sons, 2006) deals with family relationships. Of the 9 stories, 3 are set within the Spanish state, two wholly in Barcelona and one partly in Barcelona and mainly in Minorca. At times his prose becomes a little hypnotic, slowed by his mannered phrasing and concentration on detail. Most of these stories work well: it is fiction that rewards careful and slow reading. The story that stays in the mind most gloriously, is “The New Spain”, its bold ambition expressed in its title.
Novels set in Barcelona
The Colour of a Dog Running Away by Richard Gwyn
Musician and translator Lucas has reformed his nomadic ways to settle in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. Intrigued by some cryptic instructions on the back of an anonymous postcard, Lucas finds himself compelled into a love-affair with the sophisticated Nuria. But his attraction is obsessive and vulnerable in turns. He is abducted to the Pyrenees, apparently to the heart of a Cathar Sect exterminated during the thirteenth century. Back in the city’s underbelly, tableaux of fire-eaters, drop-outs and bewildered friends accompany Lucas as he degenerates into drug and alcohol-fuelled nihilism.
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The third in the cycle of novels that began with The Shadow of the Wind and the Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven returns to the world of the cemetery of forgotten books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop in Barcelona.
Nada by Carmen Laforet, Mario Vargas Llosa
Nada describes a young woman’s emergence from a life of cloying despair into the fresh new dawn of post-war enlightenment and promise. The spirit of war-torn, brutalised Barcelona – very different from the confident, prosperous Catalan capital we know today – hovers over this beautifully written and minutely observed novel. Winner of ’premio nadal’ in 1944.
Paper Spurs by Olga Merino
Growing up in the post-war Spain of the 1950s means a life of poverty, hunger, and gruelling work. Juana leaves the home she has known all her life and heads to Barcelona to look for employment. For a time she finds a wage and a bed in the house of the devious Madame Monterde, but after discovering Monterde’s shameful secret Juana is thrown out onto the street. Companionship and some hope comes in the unlikely form of Liberto, a home-bound watchmaker many years Juana’s senior. As her story unfolds Juana shows us that, when love is not enough, and nothing in life is sure, she can rely on one person, and one person alone, to provide the strength she needs to survive. Herself.
Crime Fiction set in Barcelona
The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill
Inspector Salgado has a murky emotional past and a runaway wife. So he is moved off his current case to investigate the story behind a young boy’s fall to his death from a balcony in one of Barcelona’s uptown areas. Salgado digs deeper, poking at the the seedy underbelly of Spain’s most popular city, to unearth a case of human trafficking and voodoo. But Hector’s fierce, complex personality (with his passion for cinema) and a seemingly unresolvable case are set to implode under Barcelona’s hot sun…
Offside by Manuel Vazquez Montalban
“The centre forward will be killed at dusk…’ To revive its sagging fortunes, Barcelona FC has bought the services of Jack Mortimer, European Footballer of the Year. No sooner has Mortimer taken possession of his company Porsche than death threats start arriving. Are they a hoax, the work of a loner or are they connected to the awesome real estate speculation that is tearing Barcelona apart? While Catalan pimps and racketeers are being hustled off the streets by crime syndicates from the Middle East, Pepe Carvalho is thinking of retirement, but the need to save the soul of his beloved Barcelona forces him to take on a case that can only end in disaster.
A Not So Perfect Crime by Teresa Solana
Another day in Barcelona, another slimy politician’s wife is suspected of infidelity. Concerned only about the potential political fallout, Lluis Font hires twins Eduard and Pep, private detectives with a supposed knack for helping the wealthy with their ‘dirty laundry’. Their office is adorned with false doors leading to non-existent private rooms, a mysterious secretary who is always away and a broken laptop computer picked up on the street. The case turns ugly when Font’s wife is found poisoned. This is a deftly plotted, bitingly funny mystery novel. It is a satire of Catalan politics and a fascinating insight into the life and habits of Barcelona’s inhabitants, diurnal and nocturnal.
A Shortcut to Paradise by Teresa Solana
A writer is murdered at the Ritz on the night she wins an important literary prize, battered to death with the trophy she has just won.
A satire of the Catalan literary scene dressed up as a hilarious murder mystery.
A Foodie Guide to Barcelona
Movida’s Guide to Barcelona by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish
Frank Camorra, chef of the renowned Spanish restaurant MoVida, teams up with food writer Richard Cornish in this beautifully illustrated, insider’s guide to Barcelona. They share the best culinary experiences the city offers, from small, hidden bars to the hot new award-winning restaurants and the places they love to return to. They reveal where to find the most sensational Catalan dishes, the best hotels and offer unique local knowledge from their favourite chefs. Whether it’s reviewing the best value tapas or a Garibaldi cocktail, taking you on a tour of the city’s famous Boqueria market or its iconic architecture, Frank and Richard capture the intensity of one of the most exciting destinations in the world today.
Books about Barcelona ’s history and culture
Homage to Barcelona by Colm Toibin
Written with deep knowledge and affection, Homage to Barcelona is a sensuous and beguiling portrait of a great Mediterranean city.
Barcelona, The City That Re-invented Itself by Michael Eaude
Barcelona, down at heel in the 1960s, was reinvented as the 1990s city of art and good living, and is claimed as a sustainable city for the twenty-first century. The book explains the transformation. A must for those who want to know more about the city than is available in travel guides, it covers everything from Barca football club to George Orwell and the architect Antoni Gaudi. ‘Barcelona’ is informed, witty and, at times, fiercely political.
Barcelona by Robert Hughes
A modern homage to a proud, cosmopolitan city, where geniuses like Picasso and Miro learned how to break the rules. Robert Hughes takes us down the Ramblas through the “intestinal windings” of the ancient gothic quarter, past the bountiful Boqueria market to the Example.