Monday, September 12, 2016

New book: Many Grains of Sand (Molts granets de sorra)

On September 12, 2016, Liz Castro presented her new book, Many Grains of Sand at the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, thanks to Institut director Joandomènec Ros, journalist Arturo Puente, and the President of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell.

The book is a collection of 537 photographs taken by more than 170 photographers, illustrating the creative, non-violent, democratic initiatives used by Catalans to with their independence from Spain. It is available in both soft and hardcovers, and in Catalan or in English.

Lluís Brunet, who collaborated with many photographs in the book, did a photo essay of the presentation.

For more information about the book, see

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Talking to tourists

We started giving out electronic copies of What's up with Catalonia? to tourists at Gaudí's spectacular Sagrada Família tourist magnet on Thursday. It's harder than it sounds.

First, you have to get up the nerve to speak to total strangers when the only thing they've heard about people from Barcelona is that we're all pickpockets. We started at the line of people waiting to go in. "Hi, do you speak English?" I tried. Yes, said an older couple. "I've edited a book of essays about Catalan politics," I said, as I showed them the "What's up Card". "No, we're not interested." Oh dear.

My second try was similarly unsuccessful. "Catalan politics" was definitely not the right way to go about it.

My third try was with three women with dredlocks and noserings. I noted an Irish accent. "Hey, do you speak English?" I ventured. They nodded. "We're giving away a book about the Catalan independence process," and I handed her a card. "Oh, you mean like Scotland?" Now, I was getting somewhere.

From there it got steadily easier, and more fun. I got braver, and instead of trying to guess nationalities, I talked to everyone. I explained that we were offering a free copy of the book, pointed up at the Catalan independence flags hanging from balconies on the street, and explained that Catalans just want their voices heard.

"I'm curious," a Dutch woman told me, taking the card. "Thanks." "You used to be part of Spain too," I told her. Her friend laughed.

An older Danish woman warned against violence. I promised her that Catalans are determined to win back their country peacefully, by voting.

Another couple lost no time, telling me pointedly, "We're not interested."

I saw a German couple talking and pointing at the card for several minutes after I left them.

An Ethiopian man told me he lived in Barcelona but didn't know very much about the process. "But they should be able to vote, right?" he told me.

A young couple with English accents said, "you mean like the Scottish?", and somehow it didn't sound quite as positive. I asked them where they were from. Birmingham. What do you think about the Scottish referendum?" I asked. "They can do whatever they want," the man answered with an annoyed expression. I congratulated them on their democracy, and explained that in Spain, Catalans are not allowed to vote on their own future.

When I got home that afternoon, I saw that people had already started to download the book: the first from Cambridge (not sure if it was Massachusetts or England), Seville, Atlanta, GA, Madrid, and Belgium. If you'd like to share Catalonia's story, feel free to come down to the ANC who are helping me distribute the cards (Marina, 315 in Barcelona), print out the cards yourself, or just send the link around. Thanks!

(You can also read this post in Catalan.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Let's give tourists info on Catalonia to take away!

Summer in Barcelona is high-tourist season. Everywhere you look there's someone checking a map, standing in line to see a Gaudí building, nursing a sunburn, or buying an ice cream. While lots of locals are fed up—especially with the drunk ones that sing loudly into the night or run naked through the streetsI look at tourists as potential distributors abroad of information about the Catalan independence process.

Every time I get on a metro or have a coffee in my plaça and overhear another language close by, I wish I had some way of telling them, "Hey, there's more here than meets the eye. These people want to get their country back. They want to be independent again and decide their own destiny. They want to do it peacefully and they want to vote on November 9th. And a couple million people are going to create a huge V in the middle of Barcelona to demand their right to vote, and HERE'S WHY." But it's hard, and sometimes exhausting, starting conversations with perfect strangers.

But how about giving them all copies of the book I edited last year, What's up with Catalonia? with articles written by top-notch academics, economists, writers, educators, and politicians including Catalan President Artur Mas, ERC President Oriol Junqueras, ANC President Carme Forcadell, and many more.

I can't hand out print books but in this day of electronic copies, I can sure give them electronic ones. And what if I could get lots of people to help me? I'm surely not the only person who comes into contact with people from other countries EVERY SINGLE DAY. Imagine if everyone in Catalonia had a handful of cards in their purse or backpocket so they could hand them out as they explain how to get to the Casa Batlló or the most visited museum in Catalonia, the home of FC Barcelona.


Wouldn't it be brilliant if tourists took Catalonia's story back home with them? You can help. Either pick up a bunch of What's up Bookmarks (lovingly designed by Jordi Calvís) at the ANC headquarters on Marina, 315, or contact me directly and I'll get you some. Or download the PDF file yourself and print some out (and let me know so I can keep track). And you can always just share the link.

As I've said many times before, Catalans are not waiting for people from other countries to come help or save us, we just want them to be watching the whole process. When we declare independence, we don't want it to be a surprise to anyone.

Thanks for your help.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#CatalanTalk—Interviews of prominent Catalans, on Twitter, in English

Starting on January 2, 2014, at 17:00 CET (11am EST, 8am PST), I will be interviewing prominent Catalan activists, politicians, writers, academics, artists, and scientists in a unique new format: on Twitter, live, and in English. It seems to me that the best way to find out just what is going on in Catalonia is to ask directly. Twitter will allow us to share the interview in real time, and invite questions and comments. We'll use the hashtag #CatalanTalk.

My first guest will be Ferran Civit, member of the National Board of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and the logistical coordinator for the Catalan Way in which more than 1.6 million people held hands from one end of Catalonia to the other to demand independence from Spain this past September. As Civit said in a recent interview in El Punt Avui, “If we are capable of doing this, we'll can win our independence, too.”

Upcoming interviews include Gemma Lienas (writer, feminist, and now chocolatier) on January 9th at 16h CET and Oriol Junqueras, President of Esquerra Republicana Catalana and Leader of the Opposition in the Catalan Parliament on Jan 13 at 17h CET, and we are in the process of scheduling Jaume Cabré, bestselling novelist; Blanca Rosa Roca, Publisher, Roca Editorial; Albert Pont, President of the Cercle Català de Negocis), Salvador Cardús, Sociologist and columnist, member of the National Transition Advisory Board to the Catalan Government; Vicent Partal, Director of online news portal Vilaweb; Quim Torra, Publisher and Director of the El Born Cultural Center; and others. Please send suggestions, via Twitter, or email.)

If you can't follow the interviews live, don't worry. I'll offer a recap later on this blog and eventually in book format. Details to follow!

Thanks to Porter Anderson for the inspiration. His interviews of people in publishing on #PorterMeets, Mondays at 5pm EST are really great.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What's up with Catalonia? in US Libraries

This week I received a particularly nice thank-you letter from the Jersey City Free Public Library that I'd like to share with you (with permission). In particular, Priscilla Gardner, the Library Director there, said,
The Jersey City library is always grateful for the generosity of others, who, through donations such as yours, help build strong and varied collections throughout our library system. What’s up with Catalonia? is intriguing because of its timeliness on a buried news story, and will edify our library patrons on such a sensitive topic. [emphasis mine]
You can download the full original letter here.

I have sent copies of What's up with Catalonia? to 187 libraries across the US, and several more in other countries. If your library doesn't yet have a copy, please ask them to order one, and let them know there are still donation copies available.

Here is the complete list of US libraries to which I have sent the book so far (PDF):
    Birmingham Birmingham Public Library
Tuscaloosa University of Alabama - Library
    Anchorage Anchorage Public Library
Fairbanks Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library
    Phoenix Phoenix Public Library
Tucson Joel D. Valdez Main Library, University of Arizona Library
    Little Rock Central Arkansas Library System
    Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Public Library
Los Angeles Los Angeles Public Library, Edward L Doheny Memorial Library - USC, Powell Library - UCLA College Library
San Diego San Diego Public Library - Central Library
San Jose San Jose Public Library
Stanford Cecil H. Green Library - Stanford University
    Boulder University of Colorado Boulder Library
Castle Rock Douglas County Libraries
Colorado Springs Pikes Peak Library District
Denver Denver Public Library
Fort Collins "Morgan Library, Colorado State University"
    Bridgeport Bridgeport Public Libaray (Burroughs & Saden Branch)
Hartford Hartford Public Library
Middletown Olin Library (Wesleyan)
New Haven New Haven Free Public Library
Norwalk Norwalk Public Library
Stamford The Ferguson Library
Storrs UConn University Libraries
    Dover Dover Public Library
Wilmington Wilmington Institute Library
District of Columbia
    District Of Columbia Public Library, Georgetown University Library, University Library at American University, George Washington University Library      
    Gainesville George A. Smathers Libraries - University of Florida
Jacksonville Jacksonville Public Library
Miami Miami-Dade Public Library System
St. Augustine St. Johns County Public Library
Tallahassee Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library System, Strozier Library - Florida State Library
Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative
    Athens University of Georgia Library
Atlanta Central Library & Library System Headquarters - Atlanta Georgia
Augusta East Central Georgia Regional Library System, East Central Georgia Regional Library System
    Hilo Hilo Public Library
Honolulu Hawaii State Public Library System, University of Hawai'i at Manoa Library
Kailua Kailua Public Library
    Boise Boise Public Library
    Aurora Aurora Public Library
Chicago Harold Washington Library Center (Main Library), The University of Chicago Library
Evanston Northwestern University Library
Joliet Joliet Public Library
Rockford Rockford Public Library
Urbana Library of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Fort Wayne Allen County Public Library
Indianapolis Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Notre Dame University of Notre Dame Library
West Lafayette Libraries Administration Offices - Purdue University
    Cedar Rapids Cedar Rapids Public Library
Des Moines Des Moines Public Library - Central
Iowa City The University of Iowa Libraries
    Wichita Wichita Public Library
    Lexington University of Kentucky - Library
Louisville Louisville Free Public Library
    Baton Rouge East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library - Tulane University
New Orleans New Orleans Public Library
    Bangor Bangor Public Library
Brunswick Bowdoin College Library
Lewiston Lewiston Public Library, Ladd Library - Bates College
Portland Portland Public Library
South Portland South Portland Public Library
Waterville Colby College Libraries
    Baltimore Enoch Pratt Free Library, The Sheridan Libraries - Johns Hopkins University
College Park McKeldin Library - University of Maryland
Columbia Central Library - Columbia
Germantown Germantown Branch Library
Silver Spring Silver Spring Branch Library
    Ann Arbor University Library - University of Michigan
Detroit Detroit Public Library
East Lansing Michigan State University Libraries
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Public Library
Warren Warren Public Library - Civic Center Library
    Minneapolis Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central, Wilson Library - University of Minnesota
Northfield Gould Library - Carleton College Library
Rochester Rochester Public Library
Saint Paul Saint Paul Public Library
    Jackson Jackson-Hinds Library System
    Kansas City Kansas City Public Library
St. Louis Saint Louis Public Library, "Olin Library (Washington Univesity, Saint Louis)"
    Billings Parmly Billings Library
Bozeman Montana State University Library
    Omaha Omaha Public Library
    Henderson Henderson District Public Libraries
Las Vegas Las Vegas-Clark County Library District
Reno Washoe County Library System
New Hampshire
    Concord Concord Public Library
Derry Derry Public Library
Durham Dimond Library - U New Hampshire Library
Hanover Baker Berry Library - Dartmouth
Manchester Manchester City Library
Nashua Nashua Public Library
Plymouth Lamson Library & Learning Commons - Plymouth State University
New Jersey
    Elizabeth Elizabeth Free Public Library
Jersey City Jersey City Free Public Library, Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library - New Jersey City University
Newark Newark Public Library
Paterson Paterson Free Public Library      
Princeton Princeton University Library
Union Kean University Library - Nancy Thompson Library
New Mexico
    Albuquerque Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Library System, "University Libraries, MSC05 3020"
Las Cruces Thomas Branigan Memorial Library
Rio Rancho Rio Rancho Public Library
New York
    Albany SUNY Albany - "The University Library"
Buffalo Buffalo and Erie Public Library
Ithaca Cornell University Library
New York The New York Public Library, Columbia University Libraries, NYU - The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
Rochester Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County
Yonkers Yonkers Public Library - Riverfront Library
North Carolina
    Charlotte Public Library Of Charlotte Mecklenburg County
Durham William R. Perkins Library - Duke University
Greensboro Greensboro Public Library
Raleigh Wake County Public Libraries
North Dakota
    Fargo Fargo Public Library
    Cincinnati The Public Library of Cincinnati And Hamilton County
Cleveland Cleveland Public Library
Columbus Columbus Metropolitan Library, Ohio State University Libraries
Kent University Libraries - Kent State University
Toledo Toledo-Lucas County Public Library
    Norman Pioneer Library System
    Eugene Eugene Public Library, Knight Library - University of Oregon
Portland Multnomah County Library, Reed College Library
Salem Salem Public Library
    Allentown Allentown Public Library
Erie Erie County Public Library
Philadelphia UPenn - Van Pelt Library, Free Library of Philadelphia - Central Library
Pittsburgh Hunt Library - Carnegie Mellon University
Reading Reading Public Library
University Park Penn State Library
Rhode Island
    Providence Providence Public Library, Brown University Library - Rockefeller Library
South Carolina
    Columbia Thomas Cooper Library - University of South Carolina, Richland County Public Library
South Dakota
    Sioux Falls Siouxland Libraries
    Memphis Memphis Public Library And Information Center
Nashville Nashville Public Library, Jean and Alexander Heard Library - Vanderbilt University Library
    Abilene Abilene Public Library
Austin Austin Public Library, University of Texas Libraries
Houston Fondren Library - Rice University
    Salt Lake City Salt Lake City Public Library
    Burlington Fletcher Free Library, Bailey / Howe Library - UVM
Middlebury Davis Family Library - Middlebury College
    Charlottesville University of Virginia Library
Chesapeake Chesapeake Central Library
Newport News Newport News Public Library System
Norfolk Norfolk Main Library
Richmond Richmond Public Library
Virginia Beach Virginia Beach Public Library
    Pullman Washington State University
Seattle Seattle Public Library - Central Library, University of Washington
Spokane Spokane County Library District
Tacoma Tacoma Public Library
Vancouver Vancouver Community Library
West Virginia
    Charleston Kanawha County Public Library
    Green Bay Brown County Library
Madison Madison Public Library, "Memorial Library - University of Wisconsin, Madison"
Milwaukee Milwaukee Public Library
Oshkosh "Polk Library - University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh"
    Cheyenne Laramie County Library System

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Spanish-English edition of What's up with Catalonia? on sale Sept 11 with Diari ARA

[Versión en castellano]

Tomorrow is September 11th, Catalonia's National Day. Hundreds of thousands of people will join hands from one end of Catalonia to the other, from Perthus in the Catalan Pyrenees to Alcanar in the delta of the River Ebre, a distance of some 250 miles. To celebrate, Catalonia Press has joined hands with the newspaper ARA to publish a bilingual edition of What's up with Catalonia?, in Spanish and English. This is the perfect book to share with friends and family both within and outside Catalonia who are curious about the 'process' towards independence.

What's up_¿Qué le pasa?What's up with Catalona? - ¿Qué le pasa a Cataluña? contains 35 essays that explain the book's subtitle, a direct quote from the American Declaration of Independence: "the causes which impel them to the separation". These essays, written by leading historians, linguists, writers, educators, and political scientists and leaders, including Catalonia's President Mas, the leader of the opposition ERC, Oriol Junqueras, and the president of the Catalan National Assembly, Carme Forcadell, help to explain the background behind the massive march last September 11, 2012 and the monumental joining of hands to take place on September 11, 2013.

This new edition will be available with a special price of 9.95€ exclusively with the purchase of the ARA newspaper, between September 11, 2013 and September 15, 2013, in newspaper stands all over Catalonia. After September 15, you can order a copy through After October 1st, the book will be available in bookstores, in other online markets, and in electronic editions.

What's up with Catalonia? has garnered rave reviews on Amazon and in the prestigious American journal, Kirkus Reviews, who said, "This collection is packed with a college course’s worth of interesting information."

What's up interior

For questions or review copies, contact Liz Castro at Catalonia Press.


Edición bilingüe español/inglés de What's up with Catalonia? - ¿Qué le pasa a Cataluña?

Mañana es 11 de setiembre, la Diada de Cataluña. Miles de personas se darán las manos, de un extremo a otro de Cataluña, desde La Perthus en los Pirineos Catalanes hasta Alcanar en el delta del Ebro, lo que representa una distancia de 400 quilómetros. Para celebrarlo, Catalonia Press se ha dado las manos con el Diari ARA para publicar una edición bilingüe en castellano e inglés de What's up with Catalonia? Se trata de un libro perfecto para compartir con amigos y familiares dentro y fuera de Cataluña que tengan curiosidad sobre el proceso de independencia.

What's up_¿Qué le pasa?What's up with Catalona? - ¿Qué le pasa a Cataluña? contiene 35 ensayos que explican el subtítulo del libro, una cita literal de la Declaración de Independencia de los Estados Unidos: "las causas que la impulsan a la separación". Estos ensayos, escritos por historiadores, lingüistas, escritores, educadores y personalidades de la política de primera fila, entre ellos el presidente de Cataluña, Artur Mas, el presidente de ERC, Oriol Junqueras, y la presidenta de la Assemblea Nacional de Catalunya, Carme Forcadell, ayudan a explicar las razones detrás de la manifestación multitudinaria del pasado once de septiembre de 2012, y la cadena humana sin precedentes que tendrá lugar el once de septiembre de 2013.

Esta nueva edición estará disponible por un precio especial de 9,95€ exclusivamente con la compra del Diari ARA entre el 11 y el 15 de septiembre de 2013 en todos los quioscos de Cataluña. A partir del día 15 se pueden pedir ejemplares del libro a través de la tienda del Diari ARA. A partir del 1 de octubre, el libro se podrá encontrar en librerías, en otras tiendas online y en versión electrónica.

¿Qué le pasa a Cataluña? ha recibido reseñas muy favorables tanto en Amazon como en la prestigiosa revista estadounidense Kirkus Reviews, que lo ha descrito como una “colección repleta de información interesante que podría abarcar un curso universitario entero”.

What's up interior

Para más información o para pedir ejemplares de reseña, ponte en contacto con Liz Castro de Catalonia Press.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sant Jordi, Lost Luggage, and What's up with Catalonia?

Yesterday, April 21st, the Catalan Institute of America invited me to present What's up with Catalonia? at their annual Sant Jordi/Books & Roses celebration at the 86th Street Barnes & Noble in New York City. The event, which is one of the New York-based Catalan group's major get togethers of the year, together with September 11th, was very well attended, with every seat in the house filled, as well as a fair number sitting in the back. Probably about 200 people in all.

The celebration began with a lovely puppet show for the kids. The hall was then lined with chairs and novelist Jordi Puntí and Mary Ann Newman took the stage to present the new English edition of Jordi's book, Maletes Perdudes [Lost Luggage]. Jordi and Mary Ann took turns reading passages of the book, Jordi in Catalan and Mary Ann in English, and it was both interesting to listen to the story itself, and the curious tale of four brothers whose names were a “sort of Latin declension” of Christopher, as well as listening to the translation and mentally comparing it with the original. Thoroughly enjoyable.

After a short intermission, with delicious chocolates donated from a famous Barcelonian chocolatier, Oriol Balaguer, next up were Laia Balcells, Assistant Professor at Duke University, Jordi Puntí, and myself, with columnist and political scientist Jordi Graupera expertly moderating a panel discussion on What's up with Catalonia? Laia explained how we got where we are, I talked about why and how the book came about, and Jordi gave us a Barcelona-based view of the September 11th demonstration and current atmosphere in the city.

There were a lot of good questions and comments from the audience. Perhaps the most emotional moment came when an older woman stood up and explained that, born in 1933, she had lived through the Franco years and she was determined to live long enough to see Catalonia's independence.

Laia Balcells will talk about What's up with Catalonia? and the Catalan independence process in general on Tuesday with Clara Ponsatí at Georgetown University, while I will be speaking with a group of Harvard University students on Tuesday, and a UMass Amherst group on Wednesday. Please join us at any of those events if you're close by!

Many thanks to all who helped organize these events!