Why you need to visit Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Barcelona
The Word Wizard of Barcelona
Why you need to visit Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Barcelona – It’s been a week since we all learned about the death of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of many magical novels set in Barcelona. This news really hit me hard. He was only 55 and has been one of my favourite authors in Spanish for some time now. I’ve bought the entire Cemetery of Forgotten Books series in Spanish and I can tell you, it’s even more magical in the original language. Having said that, the translation into English is just perfect but I found by reading them in Spanish, I could hear and feel the author guide me around that amazing gothic city and his cemetery of forgotten books on a very personal visit.
You HAVE to read the Barcelona series if you haven’t already. What am I saying? You should read all of Carlos’ novels. The man was and will always be a genius in my eyes. Together with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos was my unofficial language teacher for Spanish. I’ve read all his novels in the original language and bought all of them in English too. I did a very special Zafón pilgrimage to Barcelona and felt an excitement I hadn’t felt before when I discovered the very street where the cemetery of books was said to be located.
This is an amazing city anyway but to see it through Carlos’s eyes, is a real treat indeed. Of course, you have to visit the Gaudi sites, but it’s the Zafón sites that are the most thrilling. Where’s Daniel’s father’s shop? Where does Daniel first meet Fermin? Where is that magical gothic square where he meets Clara? Oh and the scene on the cover of Shadow of the Wind of a misty and mysterious Barcelona morning!
The city’s squares are amazing anyway and perfect for a quiet reading moment but when you see it through the eyes of an author such as Zafón, you get to experience it in a whole new way…
I swear the shivers of excitement and anticipation I felt when standing here was something I will never forget. I admit I looked around hoping to see Daniel, Clara or Fermin myself….
Then I headed to the bookshop where Daniel works…
The Shadow of the Wind also has the most magical line in literature for me:
“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”
Ooh I get the shivers just reading this again. What is this place? Where is it? What is it like? I was SO excited to go here for the first time like Daniel and that’s a day I will never forget.
Carlos also wrote some more beautiful sentences that I wrote down as they describe books and their magic so well:
He speaks of books like friends:
“I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”
What makes a bookshop:
“In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.”
What makes a book:
“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
How books affect us:
“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”
I met him briefly at a book festival in Barcelona and fangirled him from afar. The crowds to meet him were HUGE and I wasn’t able to get very close. I wanted to shake his hand, give him a hug. What do you say to an author who has made such an impression on you?
I’m going to reread this series now. Lockdown has dulled my reading mojo somewhat but I NEED to be transported back to Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Barcelona. That’ll do the trick.
RIP Carlos. DEP Carlos.