The big party that starts Sant Jordi

Fernando Aramburu is convinced that he was the one who brought the rain to Barcelona yesterday.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
23 April 2024 Tuesday 18:06
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The big party that starts Sant Jordi

Fernando Aramburu is convinced that he was the one who brought the rain to Barcelona yesterday. "Actually, I don't come to sign books, but I have a special mission: to end the drought. But don't panic. As a man of the times that I am, I have the power to make April 23 stop", he said jokingly last night at the Alma hotel in Barcelona, ​​where the traditional La Vanguardia party was held for the eleventh year.

The drizzle that fell in the middle of the afternoon did not prevent authors, editors - filmmakers, playwrights, actors and politicians - from going there to celebrate the book and rose festival through the big door. There was no shortage of names such as editors Elena Ramírez, Silvia Sesé or Juan Cerezo in a night in which the true protagonists were the writers. From Bonnie Garmus and Hernán Díaz, who assured that "they had not seen anything like it in the United States or in any country visited", to Luis Landero, Ramon Gener, Alice Kellen, Juan Gómez-Jurado and Gerard Quintana, who was overwhelmed with the music group Sax Guitar Duo, who improvised their set in a corner. "Meeting your idol and being engraved on it is the most exciting thing that could have happened to us", say Alba Ruiz and Xavi Valls.

Early signings, such as Roberto Corral or the Korean Won-Pyung Sohn, did not want to miss the celebration either. "I am looking forward to this new experience. I can get an idea just with the convening power that exists this Monday at the Alma hotel", said the winner of the Edhasa prize. The premiere will also be held today by Doug Dorst, the novelist who teamed up with the director of Perdidos, J.J. Abrams, to create El barco de Teseo Edicions) - an interactive analog book in screen time -, was aware at all times of what was happening and who knows if he took advantage of the night to dream up the plot of a future story that could end making the jump to the cinema or theatre. There would be no shortage of companions for this adventure, as they were present, among others, the actors Lina Lambert and Pablo Rivero and the playwright Marc Artigau, very well accompanied by the writer and winner of the Llibres Anagrama prize of Novel Clara Queraltó.

Neither did Rodrigo Fresán, Carlota Gurt, Melcior Comes, Víctor del Árbol or Javier Castillo miss the party, who stoically endured the rain two years ago to be able to sign everyone who came to his stand and that, if the situation were to happen again, I would do the same thing again.

At a party chaired by editor Javier Godó, there were no parliaments for the first time in a long time. "The circumstances and the rain did not allow it, and they would not have paid much attention to us. It's complicated", recognized Jordi Juan, director of La Vanguardia, who took advantage of a direct message on the newspaper's social networks to emphasize "the importance of thinking about children. It is necessary to educate them so that they can enjoy the pleasure of the book. The previous generations have grown up in a pre-digital stage and discovered this pleasure. It is important that they also know how to appreciate it and, for this reason, I encourage them to buy books for their children and nephews and that they do not stay on the shelves”. In the same vein, Nuria Cabutí, managing director of Penguin Random House, said: "This year we are particularly happy because we had David Walliams make the announcement, which has encouraged all children and young people to read".

The journalist and writer Sergio Vila-Sanjuán, at the head of the Cultura/s supplement, had also planned to speak in public – to thank the sponsors Pere Ventura, Estrella Damm and the Alma hotel itself, for welcoming the nearly 500 guests who were there attend last night He also planned to dedicate a few words to the cultural journalist Anna Pérez Pagès, recently passed away, and who was a regular at the La Vanguardia party.

This Sant Jordi 2024 smells like a record year. One more after the past became the most participatory and the best-selling in history, with 1.87 million copies and a cumulative turnover during the week of 24 million euros. There are several factors that invite them back, such as the increase in the number of stops, which in Barcelona, ​​from 2017 to 2024, has gone from 186 to a total of 435; the footage, which is extended to 3,356 meters, and the Rambla is completely recovered; or that the party falls on a weekday again for the first time since the pandemic, which presupposes less travel and a concentrated participation, with a special peak in the afternoon, coinciding with the departure from work. Something that particularly pleases the Secretary of State for Culture, Jordi Martí, since he considers that "the joy of Sant Jordi during the week is multiplied by a thousand, because most companies let people out earlier so they can buy a rose and a book This unwritten agreement seems magical and metaphorical to me."

If anything will favor these optimistic figures, it will be the weather, uncertain until the last moment, and which forced to change at the last minute the location of the traditional cover photo of the newspaper, formed this year by fourteen writers, who starred during a few minutes of an elevator dance, in which former president José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero was also involved. The snapshot, which was supposed to be taken on the terrace, was instead taken in the equally majestic main hall, where a painting full of roses by Perico Pastor presided over the room, which many guests assured that could smell, as well as the success expected today.