Culture 15/04/2021

Finestres: a new bookshop with armchairs and no signal

On Carrer Diputació in Barcelona, it offers 42,000 books and is committed to bibliographic resources and linguistic diversity

3 min
One of the corners dedicated to fiction in the Ventanas bookshop

BarcelonaBooks of essays, in Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Galician... Welcome those who pass through the door of the new Finestres bookshop, which opens its doors this Thursday at number 249 Diputació street in Barcelona. The cataloguing is sui generis: melancholy, women with power, heretics, rebels and outcasts, everyday life... Further back is fiction, comfortable armchairs, old lamps, and a fireplace. The bookshop, if the works next door allow it, wants to be above all a space of silence, a place to read but not to work: there is no signal. Silence is not just a suggestion, it has to be obeyed: it is full of signs that light up if the tone of voice is too high.

The space has an air that is difficult to place on a timeline: some decorative elements are reminiscent of the 1930s, and there is a small office that could be part of a Nancy Mitfort novel. The bookshop, which highlights the collection but does not forget novelties, currently has 42,000 books (35,000 references) on its shelves, with a clear commitment to linguistic diversity. Each book can have multiple versions side by side: English, Spanish, Basque, Galician, French, Catalan. In autumn, right infront, another space will open that will be dedicated to art, graphic novels, and illustration, and will offer about 15,000 items. In total, both spaces will cover around 800 square meters.

"It wants to be a window of evasion and awareness. There is a rich bibliographic collection, away from commercial pressures", says pharmaceutical entrepreneur and patron Sergi Ferrer-Salat, who has promoted the project. There is a large space dedicated to poetry and a great bibliographic diversity. "We try to bring a lot of books from abroad, books that arouse our curiosity, from small publishers", says its director, Àurea Perelló. When it comes to bringing books from the British Isles, the problem, says Perelló, has not been so much the pandemic - as Brexit.

"It's not just a physical space, but a cultural project, with a very powerful programme that will invite debate with national and international authors", says Perelló. On this point, the bookshop doesn't want to follow the most canonical line either. "We want to escape from the more usual and orthodox presentation of books, to have more performances, readings, as is done in other parts of Europe, and not to stick to current events; if there's an author who hasn't published for ten years but we love him, we'll bring them too", says the writer Kiko Amat, who forms part of the Finestres team with the writer Marina Espasa, the booksellers Àurea Perelló and Mireya Valencia, and the literary agent Camila Enric. On Saturdays there will be a literary vermouth with spoken word proposals, stand-up comedy, and poetry.

Another singularity of the bookshop are the prizes. This Wednesday, during the presentation of the new space in the press, they have announced the winners of published work, each endowed with 25,000 euros. In Catalan, the prize, which aims to give a second chance to books, has been for Albert Pijuan and his work Tsunami (Angle), in which nature takes revenge on hotel expansion.

In the courtyard of the bookshop, which will also be a café, Pijuan has compared himself to the coalman of a steam cruiser, because he constantly feeds bookshops with coal, that is, money. He is a compulsive book buyer. The other winner was the Argentinian writer Camila Sola for Las malas (Tusquets), in which she explains the life of trans people in the city of Cordoba, including the author herself. Sosa, who because of the pandemic has had to thank the award from Argentina through the screen, has claimed with a great sense of humor the visibility of the trans collective and stressed that also through books you can change the way society is run. Next month the bookshop will announce the essay grants, which total 40,000 euros. Espasa stressed the importance of these grants because the essay is a genre that "lacks muscle in this country".

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