Homage to Barcelona

Homage to Barcelona

3.77 (346 ratings by Goodreads)
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This book celebrates one of Europe's greatest cities -- a cosmopolitan hub of vibrant architecture, art, culture and nightlife. It moves from the story of the city's founding and its huge expansion in the nineteenth century to the lives of Gaudi, Miro, Picasso, Casals and Dali. It also explores the history of Catalan nationalism, the tragedy of the Civil War, the Franco years and the transition from dictatorship to democracy which Colm Toibin witnessed in the 1970s. Written with deep knowledge and affection, Homage to Barcelona is a sensuous and beguiling portrait of a unique Mediterranean port and an adopted home. 'Toibin has the narrative poise of Brian Moore and the patient eye for domestic detail of John McGahern, but he is very much his own man' Observer 'Having lived in Barcelona off and on since the 70s, Toibin knows all the fascinations of its sensuous Mediterranean history and lifestyle and "the most precious jewels in the city's treasury of bars" ...Toibin is the perfect guide' Chicago Tribuneshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 16mm | 158.76g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0330373560
  • 9780330373562
  • 84,480

Review quote

"'Colm Toibin writes prose of a heartbreaking beauty' Hilary Mantel, Daily Telegraph"show more

About Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of five novels, most recently The Master which was shorlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. His non-fiction includes Bad Blood, Homage to Barcelona and The Sign of the Cross. His work has been translated into seventeen languages. He lives in Dublin.show more

Review Text

Barcelona, according to Colm Toibin, is a place where culture is political in ways unlike any other city in Europe. Poetry is political, when it is written in the Catalan language banned by the Franco regime. Music is political, when it is El Cant de la Seneyen, the national anthem of Catalonia. Architecture is political, when it is the intellectual property of fiercely independent Catalonians gleaning from the mediaeval Gothic and Romanesque traditions. Even football is political, for when Barcelona are victorious over Madrid it is symbolic of the ancient capital of Catalonia defeating Spain. Homage to Barcelona mixes autobiography, history, travel guide and journalism. Toibin, fluent in both Spanish and Catalan, lived in Barcelona for years, resident during the Franco dictatorship and the transitory period afterward. He tells the stories of the city's heroes - Miro, Picasso, Dali, among just a few - laying them starkly against the fear and paranoia of Franco's rule. Myths surrounding the romanticism of the Spanish Civil War are analysed and debunked, next to chapters exploring the city's best restaurants and the seedy sex trade. The text often spews out facts at a mile a minute, but the voice is lyrical and impassioned. Toibin's meticulously researched details are not researched from a stuffy library, but rather from donkey rides up steep, rocky mountains, solitary walks on sandy moonlit beaches, dinner parties with locals, hitchhiking with Spanish holiday makers - the experiences only years of weaving oneself into the fabric of the city can give. Culminating in the pomp, ceremony and hasty regeneration in time for the 1992 Olympics, this is an honest and beautifully written tribute to a much beloved city. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

346 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 17% (59)
4 49% (171)
3 28% (97)
2 5% (17)
1 1% (2)
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