Sant Jordi 2022 survives a carousel of storms

  • The day began in a spectacular way with the streets taken by the people, but the cruel showers prevented a historic ‘dyad’

“April is the cruelest month, to make / lilacs sprout in dead soil / memory and desire, stir / slow roots with spring rain & rdquor ;. The cruelty of the month, as described by TS Eliot in ‘The Waste Land’, had this Saturday, ‘dyad’ of Sant Jordi, extra ration according to inclement weather. She woke up with a cloudy sky, with a modest rain almost as if asking for forgiveness, and by mid-morning people had rushed to eat even the seeds of the bookish super-apple. The gear of the signatures, the joy of the readers, the queues, gave us back an image that we had not seen since 2019, that shameless display of happy citizens, unmasked, kissing each other and smelling the roses (that is almost a metaphor because the roses of Sant Jordi stopped smelling a long time ago, but it serves to portray the degree of euphoria). To crown the excitement, the clouds parted and the sun came out.

I was so excited Javier Fences receiving his readers at a stall on Paseo de Gràcia that he kept repeating to those who asked him what he likes to say so much: that Sant Jordi is a “miracle”, a festival that has no parallel anywhere in the world. “And to crown the miracle, look what a splendid sun it is now.”

the sky collapses

It was to say that and to fall a torrent with hail included, the first of the four waves of rain that throughout the morning and afternoon drenched the city of books, not just cruelly in the manner of Eliot, but rather viciously and sadistically. A Sant Jordi ‘comme il faut’ had been expected for so long that we didn’t deserve what happened. The book is possibly one of the best designed objects in the world, but it has a weak point, water. And water fell viciously. And the winds blew away some tents from the stands in the lower part of Passeig de Gràcia, creating a chaos that even required the intervention of firefighters.

Many books were spoiled, causing in some cases tears in the rain of some library who contemplated how the work of many months was wasted. The awnings of the stalls began to fly through the air, leaving the material at the mercy of the storm. Laura Huerga, editor of Raig Verd / Rayo Verde saw how 12 linear meters of books were turned into paper pulp. For a small, independent publisher, such a mishap is serious business. The Gremi de Llibreters has assessed that the levels of participation and sales have been similar to those of 2019, before the pandemic.

The gestures of the authors

Among the various images, it was possible to see Jon Sistiaga, who was presenting ‘Purgatorio’, his first novel, holding the tent with one hand facing the wind with the help of his editor, David Trías, and signing with the other. The journalist who covered conflicts such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq claimed that he had never seen himself in a similar situation.

Carles Porta, one of the best sellers of the day thanks to his book ‘Crims: llum a la foscor’, which is part of his radio and television transmedia project (the next season of the series will premiere on May 2), seeing that his unconditional fans despite the downpour they did not leave the queue, he went out to meet them without caring about getting soaked. The gesture was greeted with cheers. More cautious was Cercas, who after not succeeding as a prophet invited his readers in the midst of a stony downpour to accompany him inside the tent. It is the first time that something similar has been seen in Sant Jordi, despite the fact that the rain has been an unwelcome guest on many occasions.

The humorous note came from the hand of Tomàs Molina, a TV-3 weatherman with a Sant Jordi book under his arm who predicted first thing in the morning that at 13:30 noon the clouds would finally clear. It was not like that and he himself did not stop taking it with jokey philosophy when he was reminded of the tweet.

But beyond the reactions of the authors those who deserve a special mention were the readers who stood firm and with umbrellas which in most cases did not protect them from the downpour.

Related news

In short, the rain has overshadowed a day in which authors, publishers, booksellers and, especially, the public, have done everything on their part to make it great. The newly arrived normality should have led us to talk about the regress of foreign authors such as Jo Nesbo, Petros Márkaris or Theodor Kallifatides after crossing the pandemic desert. Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk passed through Barcelona to participate in the Sant Jordi talks but had to leave on Friday for Paris where he had another appointment. He was not very sorry for not being in Sant Jordi because, he said, it would be better not to be there if it was expected to rain.

And although the inclement weather stole the spotlight from the event, it is always good to remember that Sant Jordi is a festival with many faces, some more media-oriented -TV-3 is an expert factory in creating them- others are not at all, and that one of them, that of the town crier Imma Monso at the formal lunch in the Saló de Cent of the City Council that began the day. Monsó made a glowing praise of literature: “I want a subtle literature without stridency -he said beginning a litany of wishes- that included adult literature -even that aimed at children-, virgin of censorship -including that of political correctness- , resistant through the years and that resists being interpreted in a political key, that does not seek to do pedagogy – even if it does – and that is also uncomfortable & rdquor ;. Monsó was aware that his claim could seem anti-commercial and anti-Sant Jordi, but he said that he only conceived “a literature capable of creating readers and not counting readers”. Hopefully Sant Jordi gives to create them throughout the year.

Leave a Comment