Creative Culture attended the event for the UK launch of Blind Sunflowers (Los girasoles ciegos) by Alberto Mendez at the Instituto Cervantes in London on 15th January.
A must read for the lovers of Spanish culture. A book which allows foreign communities to better understand why Spain is such an atypical country today and the scars the Civil War and Franco’s regime left on its population. Spain as we know it today emerged after 3 years of Civil War followed by 36 years of authoritarian regime under Franco. It took 30 years after the fall of this regime for testimonies such as the one beautifully delivered by Mendez to spread around the World and describe what was going to change a whole nation.
Blind Sunflowers starts one day before the end of the Civil War as Franco’s regime is taking Spain over. This novel is the one and only book Mendez ever wrote, a subject which was very important to him and which seemingly marked his life. He delivers his testimony through four short stories. The characters he builds up throughout the novel all have quite a strong implication in the War as civilians, religious figures or even Army members. Despite being a short piece of work, this novel is extremely dense. It guides you through the characters’ deepest sentiments and motivations. They become part of you. Along the way you realise that you are getting implicated in the subject as well and follow their ‘adventure’ passionately.
In front of a majorly Spanish audience, Nick Caistor, the translator of Blind Sunflowers, was being interviewed by Nick Rankin, a famous BBC World journalist. Unanimously, the final result of Nick Caistor’s interpretation and close approach of Mendez’ novel is mind blowing.
Arcadia Book, the UK publisher, and Turnaround, the distributor, attended the event as well.
Towards the end of the event, we got the chance to have testimonies from Spaniards who lived under the Franco regime most of their lives.
An enriching experience throughout!
By Melanie Chevalier