The launch of a new festival is always good news, but all the more so when the festival’s first edition was a success and, given the large number of visitors who followed the festival live or through networks (six thousand people), it is establishing itself as one of the city’s newest and most promising literary events. Yes, the 42 Festival is coming to its second edition and once again connecting with a public who remain interested in all the various forms of non-realist literature, a broad concept ranging from science fiction and fantasy to the magical worlds embedded in realist narratives, not to mention myths and legends. Beyond reality, ultimately, is where the 42 and all the literary worlds it represents can be found.
It almost seems strange, what with the existing tradition, that the city has never before had a fantasy festival, a genre with an ever greater number of followers, as confirmed by the number of new publications and the growing number of authors. We’ll be meeting a good many from beyond our shores (and not just Anglophones) at this year's edition, though we’ll also be discovering authors cultivating fantasy genres in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia, worthy successors of a Barcelonian and Catalan literary genealogy which is experiencing a boom, as can be seen in novels such as L’home que es va perdre (El hombre que se perdió, Francesc Trabal), Mecanoscrit del segon origen (Mecanoscrito del segundo origen, Manuel de Pedrolo), Les històries naturals (Las historias naturales, Joan Perucho), Olvidado rey Gudú (Ana María Matute) and so many other works of fiction, written in Catalan and Spanish by local writers or authors from a South America devoted to magical realism.
What's more, this year will see the festival exploring connections between non-realist works of fiction and mental health, an especially relevant aspect in view of the pandemic that has affected our lives in so many unexpected ways. Guests who know both the field of literary creation and some of the hidden secrets of the human mind will cross the fine, confused and often indistinguishable line between reason and madness and between fantasy and reality. This is ultimately one of the great themes of the 20th century.
Special emphasis will be put on non-realist literary creation for children in an edition with plenty of guests devoted to young adult fantasy, a sub-genre that has been attracting new generations of readers in ever greater numbers. It is this new audience that is guaranteeing the future of the fantasy genre, non-realist fiction and a festival that promises to become one of the city’s big literary events.
Barcelona citizens, we invite you, a year on, to immerse yourselves in reading and let your imagination fly through the authors in a new edition of a festival that is certain to be fantastic.
Jordi Martí, deputy Mayor for Culture, Education, Science and Community
There are other worlds and they'll all be at Festival 42
One year on from its inception, and with its 2nd edition just round the corner, the Barcelona Fantasy Genres Festival has become an unmissable event for anyone who reads, is curious about, has an interest in, or is a fan of, literary imagination. Testament to this are the 200 guest authors that took part in the 2021 edition, the 6,000 attendees who responded enthusiastically to its events, the hype in the press, other media and social media, and the dozens of collaborating entities, events and institutions, particularly the city's libraries and bookshops.
The best thing, however, was the achievement of a dream: the dream of building a platform, a community, a meeting point for creators, readers, publishers and promoters of a group of genres that have finally gained momentum, something that was unheard of until recently. We have to admit that the current context is still contributing to this success: technology, the climate, energy and economic crises, the post-pandemic world, social and emotional transformations, the feminist struggle, the debate between dystopian and utopian thought, and the need for magic and to exorcise demons and rethink the past, the present and the future.
All this requires new stories, new narratives, new ways of seeing the world.
This is why we're back, stronger and keener than ever. And we're willing to multiply realities and dimensions, spread the best literature without borders, and foster connections ranging from mythology to science fiction and from young adult fantasy to the most revolutionary horror. Featuring national and international authors and the latest new releases from the publishing sector, and opening more doors to secondary schools, mental health, the audiovisual industry and European narratives. And, above all, with new ways of asking the question behind the festival's name, as posed by Douglas Adams: what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?
You can enjoy the answers - or the new questions - in Barcelona. The city that published Tolkien, Bradbury and Cortázar, thanks to someone to whom we will be paying tribute this year. The city where Pedrolo, Perucho or Rodoreda (yes, we continue to assert that the last of these worked in the fantasy genre), among others, did at least some of their writing. Barcelona, the city of the Latin American boom, of this genre's great publishing houses and specialist bookshops, of the great literary festivals and the best promotion of reading. Barcelona, UNESCO City of Literature, the vessel where fantasy will very soon run wild again.
There are other worlds, both real and fantastical. And they'll all be there, at Festival 42. Would you like to dream about them?
Ricard Ruiz Garzón, festival 42 curator