Sunday, 9 March 2008

A Week for the Book

Many Catalans with children of school age have difficulties to help out with some of the homeworks. Nowadays, public education here is mainly carried out in Catalan, a language which today’s parents were free to talk with family and friends when they grew up, but were not taught to read or spell properly. During the Franco era, Catalan was banned from being used in radio, TV, churches and the school system.

Only after the dictator died in 1975 could Catalan start to claim back lost territory. To encourage people to begin reading in their native tongue, in 1983 the first “Week of the Book in Catalan” (Setmana del llibre en Català) was organized in the Barcelona Sants train station. This is now an annual tradition and although Barcelona still holds the biggest celebration, several smaller towns have joined.

Yesterday (Saturday), Vilanova’s bookstores and public libraries took the help of volunteers – most of them local, but also some foreigners – for the public reading of an, apparently, famous book called La Plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda. I doubt that the event created new readers of Catalan literature, but consider it a nice demonstration of interest in a language, whose future people still dare not take for granted.

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