Norway, Valencia, Barcelona. Article by Ernest Alós

It will soon be a year after the publication of a novel that has become more than just a novel. ‘Norway’, by Rafa Lahuerta: an elegy for the Ciutat Vella of the Valencian capital, the Mercat and Velluters neighborhoods in which in the 80s and 90s the traditional was dying and the lumpen committed suicide. There are already six editions and more than 10,000 copies, but not only the figures are extraordinary for an independent publisher such as Drassana and for the book in Valencian – whatever the terminological option one prefers to make the unity of the common language and the Valencian particularity, in this case the adjective is justified in duplicate; is written in a vindictively local Valencian, an ‘apitxat’ (grammatically) of simple pasts.

The story of Albert Sanchis Bermell, son of salted merchants in the street of the Trench seduced more by the bad life of the streets, the bars or a river still to be tamed than by the ‘botiguer’ spirit, frustrated writer, academic and loving disaster and finally physical and sentimental ruin, it deserves not to be appreciated beyond the extraliterary factors. But it is inevitable to point out to what extent it has become a boost of self-esteem for Valencian letters from where it could least be expected (at least based on certain preconceived ideas of the Valencian): from the heart of the capital that was given as scorched earth for the tongue, from the pen of a Lahuerta that is defined before a shopkeeper than a writer and with a past of agitator of the stands of Mestalla.

“Here it is the great novel of the forgotten Valencia, I told myself certain nights of localist fervor “, says the protagonist when he tries to write the book that Lahuerta will write. A city that “some despised for bluffing and others for being forgotten”, a “lost case”, a scenario “that the publishing houses of Madrid and Barcelona avoided in their goals”, a city repudiated by the regional culture of university nationalism Which raised “a fantasy that still lingers beneath the fallacy of moral superiority.”

It is true that the ‘xoto’ Lahuerta recognizes the novels of the ‘granota’ as antecedent Ferran Torrent. And we should still add to Sight more memorialist. But it gives the feeling that València has found its Marché, to its Casavella, to a second cousin of the Kiko Amat O Miqui Otero, to a relative of fences from ‘The laws of the border’, if instead of Barcelona we talk about Girona.

Related news

From a Barcelona-centric point of view (but I hope oblivious to the condescension with which Valencian is usually analyzed here, more inclined to give lessons than to receive them), ‘Norway’ points the finger at us. Those stories of an urban life prior to the tourist facelift, which narrate the parallel lives of the two cities, have been offered to us by Catalan writers in the Spanish language. In the Valencian capital, which some saw as a lost territory for the language, no.

But let’s think for a day in Valencia and not in Barcelona. It will be inevitable, for any outsider reader of ‘Norway’, to make the novel’s final sentence come true. “Let eixes sombres greet each vegada that I return to Valencia.”

Leave a Comment