‘Barcelones’, Vázquez Montalbán’s critical historical account of the city, to be available in bookshops for Sant Jordi

Barcelona City Council is re-publishing Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s book 'Barcelones', thirty years after it was first published by Empúries, offering readers another chance to enjoy the chronicle about Barcelona written by the author at the end of the 1980s.

The current edition by the City Council Publications Service is faithful to the original text, complementing it with a series of notes by the journalist and author Quim Aranda, who also wrote the foreword, helping the reader understand references in the text, at times tightly linked to the point in time when the work was written and published.

In 1987, as the city was working to build a new urban and human horizon for the 1992 Olympic Games, Montalbán’s voice warned of the risks of that huge facelift, necessary but also painful. The Barcelona of that time, and the one being envisaged for the future, was not born when Joan Antoni Samaranch pronounce the words “À la ville de Barcelona”. According to the author, one had to look back to the city’s origins to explain it and offer a closer and more complicit vision, with anonymous protagonists which are often cast aside and ignored. Besides being a “personal chronicle”, more than anything the book is an interesting lesson in history to be read and read over again. Form the city heights, Montalbán traces various eras and looks back at communities, protagonists and events in the life of Barcelona, from the Iber people through to the end of the 20th century.

“There’ll be a happy ending, said Montalbán at the end of Barcelones, if the young democratic city regains its multidimensional memory and dignifies the legacy of the historical losers among its citizens. Extrapolated from historical production conditions, Montalbán’s wish still holds today, based on the critical memory he always promoted. If we understand it as a horizon for social justice which needs addressing as a priority, keeping history open, the hope it includes is ours for the taking”. This is how the University of London lecturer Mari Paz Balibrea concludes her afterword in this edition of Barcelones, contextualising the present-day reading of a work which advocates a miscegenated Barcelona.

Balibrea, with a PhD from the University of California in San Diego, is a lecturer in modern Spanish literature and cultural studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her afterword attributes a classic study value to the book, which also includes illustrations by Pau Gasol Valls.

The book will be on sale a few days before Sant Jordi in Catalan, with Spanish and English versions to follow. The Catalan version, produced by Xavier Lloveras, is a hardback publication measuring 16×24 cm and has 292 pages. The price of the book will be 25 euros.