Great reads to help understand contemporary Spain — chosen by the WikiTribune team and collaborators.
Ghosts of Spain – Giles Tremlett. Tremlett is the Madrid correspondent of The Guardian newspaper and a passionate and understanding hispanophile. As this review from The Observer describes, Tremlett’s 2006 book shows how deeply the fascist era of General Francisco Franco remains imprinted on contemporary Spain. It’s the best single volume work I’ve found to get a sense of the forces at work in modern Spain, though it was written before the 2008 financial crisis which blew apart a Spanish property bubble and created mass unemployment among the young and profound dissatisfaction with establishment political parties, leading to the creation of new populist parties such as Podemos “We Can” and Cuidadanos. – Peter Bale, Launch Editor, WikiTribune
The Anatomy of a Moment – Javier Cercas. The myth of this 2009 non-fiction work by one of Spain’s greatest living novelists is that he was about to hand over a manuscript as a work of fiction when he realised no one had done a definitive history of a brief attempted coup against the emerging Spanish democracy in 1981. It’s a great reminder of how complex the transition to democracy was and how fragile it is relative to many other longer-standing European Union states. Here’s a review from London newspaper, The Guardian – Peter Bale, Launch Editor, WikiTribune
‘With uncertainty over independence’ – Written before the previous, less dramatic, vote on independence in 2014, this article by one of Europe’s leading experts on Catalonia sets out the issues clearly and impartially. Sebastian Balfour notes at one point: ‘Catalan nationalists argue that [deciding the region’s status] is a question of legitimacy versus legality’. – Angela Long, Consulting Editor, WikiTribune
What’s Up With Catalonia – Liz Castro (editor) This collection of short essays explaining the pro-independence argument was published in 2013, after a seminal mass demonstration on Barcelona’s streets. What becomes clear very soon is the extent to which the savage effects of the great financial crisis intensified Catalan grievances around money, and the paramount importance of the Catalan language as a symbol of nationhood. – Angela Long, Consulting Editor, WikiTribune
‘The democratic state responds’ – Spain’s leading serious newspaper, El País, made sure to publish its editorial in English prominently on Saturday October 21. The newspaper stands foursquare behind Mr Rajoy’s action: acting against the Catalan Generalitat (government) and its leaders is completely justified, it says. – Angela Long, Consulting Editor, WikiTribune
‘Catalonia is a region in the process of reimagining itself’ – An insightful article by author Colm Tóibín for The Guardian. Though sympathetic to aspirations of Catalan nationhood, Tóibín gets to the root of a number of realities that many commentators fail to address. He covers the extent to which whole regions of Catalonia already feel detached from the Spanish state, and how the political class in Madrid itself sees Catalonia as a foreign place with which it is unable to engage. – Sam Toland, Reader, Wikitribune
Please add your own recommendations