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Barcelona bookstore offers Sant Jordi-themed visit for international journalists

Seven countries from Europe and Africa were represented at event on Friday

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22 April 2022 04:12 PM

by

Angus Clelland | Barcelona

A group of international journalists were given an exclusive tour of the Ona Llibres bookstore in the center of Barcelona on Friday as part of a wider visit around the city organized by the Diplocat consortium aimed at promoting international awareness of Catalonia within the international community.

Overall, journalists from seven different countries attended the event: Norway, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Having just come from a tour at Institut Ramon Llull, they were greeted at the entrance by Iolanda Batellé, the director of Ona, and Martí Estruch from Diplocat, who proceeded to showcase the extensive collection of Catalan literature available at the store, which opened during the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

As a result, this is Ona Llibres’ first real Sant Jordi, as 2021’s event was scaled down for safety reasons. The owner of Ona, Tatxo Benet described this year’s edition as “very important” for this reason.

The journalists also had the chance to admire some of the art around the store, such as a piece by Damien Hurst in the ‘Mini Ona’ section upstairs.

With Ona Llibres primarily selling Catalan titles, Iolanda also took the opportunity to show some of the works by the great Catalan authors, notably Pere Calders, Joan Sales and Mercè Rodoreda.

The tour then finished in the ‘Bookeria’ seating area and events space at the back of the shop, where they had a chance to ask questions.

When speaking with Catalan News, Norwegian journalist Stein Torger Svala, having been in Barcelona many times for Sant Jordi, described it as a “marvellous manifestation of Catalan language and culture,” and although there are no official Sant Jordi events taking place in the Scandinavian country this weekend, when talking about spreading awareness about the celebration back home, he was optimistic that “maybe a story or two about Sant Jordi in Catalonia can create some ideas in Norway.”

However, for most of the journalists it was their first Sant Jordi, and they highly anticipated learning more about the traditions.

This was the case for German Nicole Buhrke, who said that she was “curious to see the books and the atmosphere”, as well as “to see what authors I’ll see there, and maybe I can get in contact with some Catalan authors”.

Like Stein, she hopes that the Sant Jordi traditions will gain popularity back home, as she told Catalan News that it is “not very well known [in Germany]”, despite the fact that there are some Sant Jordi-themed events taking place.

The visit to Ona was far from the end of the itinerary for the journalists, as tomorrow they are due to meet the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Victòria Alsina on Sant Jordi’s day itself.

Ona Llibres will have two stalls for Sant Jordi, one outside the store in Carrer de Pau Claris, and another on Passeig de Gràcia, as part of the literary superblock being set up.

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  • International journalists visiting Ona bookstore in Barcelona on April 22, 2022 (by Angus Clelland)

  • International journalists visiting Ona bookstore in Barcelona on April 22, 2022 (by Angus Clelland)

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