The Opening Speech on Reading, year by year
For Sant Jordi this year, Barcelona Libraries and the City Council Documentation and Access to Knowledge Service have decided to pay tribute to the Reading Inaugural Speech, a formal occasion held annually in the Saló de Cent at City Hall since 2003.
In order to remember this important event for the city and safeguard its memory, all the inaugural speeches from 2004 to the present day have been collected so that the Council’s institutional repository BCNROC can document them, index them and publish them.
The collection is headed by José Saramago who, despite not being the first author chosen as the pregoner (speech-giver), was the first to have his speech videoed. Almudena Grandes, Yasmina Reza and Claudio Magris, some of the many personalities invited to take part in this important Barcelona event, are also among the guests.
Quino (Mendoza, Argentina, 1932) is the creator of Mafalda, a character through which he made profound reflections and harsh criticisms of society both in Argentina and worldwide. His stories, which are still relevant today, were drawn between 1964 and 1973.
José Saramago (2004)
José Saramago (Azinhaga, 1922 - Tías, Lanzarote, 2010) was one of the most widely recognised Portuguese authors, by both critics and readers. Among other awards, he received the Camões Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Martí de Riquer (2005)
Martí de Riquer (1914-2013) received countless awards confirming him as one of the best Catalan Romance language specialists. The awards received by him include, among others, the National Prize for Catalan Literature, the Michel de Montaigne and Menéndez Pelayo prizes, the National Essay Prize, the Crítica Prize awarded by the Serra d’Or magazine, the Prince of Asturias Social Science Prize, the Lletra d′Or Prize and the National Award for Literature.
Antonio Tabucchi (2006)
Antonio Tabucchi (1943-2012) was considered the best Italian writer of his generation and he enjoyed great international prestige. He was awarded the most prestigious awards, such as the PEN Club Prize, the Campiello and Viareggio-Rèpaci awards in Italy; the Prix Médicis étranger, the European Literature Prize and the Méditerranée Prize in France, as well as the Nossak Prize in Germany.
Emili Teixidor (2007)
Emili Teixidor (1932-2012) was a writer, educator and journalist. He wrote mainly fiction for children and young people and published thirty such books, some of which became classics. He also wrote novels for adults, including his most acclaimed work, Pa Negre [Black Bread].
Alessandro Baricco (2008)
Alessandro Baricco (Turin, 1958) is the author of countless essays and articles and a large body of fiction. He directed the Pickwick literature programme, in which he encouraged Italians to rediscover the pleasure of reading, and in 1994 he founded a writing school that has been very successful under his direction.
Bernardo Atxaga (2009)
Bernardo Atxaga (Asteasu, 1951) is a member of Euskaltzaindia, the Royal Academy of the Basque Language. His extensive work has earned him numerous awards, such as the Spanish National Prize for Fiction for Obabakoak and the Spanish Literary Critics’ Association Prize for Basque-language fiction on several occasions.
José Luis Sampedro (2010)
José Luis Sampedro (Barcelona, 1917 - Madrid, 2013), a writer and economist and winner of the National Award for Literature (2011), spoke about the authors who had aroused his admiration, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, José Martínez Ruiz (Azorín), Miguel de Unamuno, Pío Baroja, Jane Austen, the Brönte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Maupassant, Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield.
Josep Maria Castellet (2011)
Josep Maria Castellet (1926-2014) was one of the most influential critics in the technical and aesthetic renewal of the 1970s generation. He was also the driving force behind literary, publishing, academic and association activities. In 1983 he was bestowed the honour of the Creu de Sant Jordi (St George's Cross) awarded by the Generalitat.
Raimon (Xàtiva, 1940), an icon of music sung in Catalan and a symbol for the fight for freedom, talked to journalist Vicent Partal about the advantages of reading, the works that had influenced him and the role that poets such as Ausiàs March or Salvador Espriu have had in his artistic life.
Albert Sánchez Piñol (2013)
Albert Sánchez Piñol (Barcelona, 1965) burst into the world of literature with the essay Pallassos i monstres [Clowns and Monsters] (2000). His next novel, Cold Skin (2002), was a literary phenomenon in Catalonia and became the most translated Catalan novel ever. His subsequent works have also earned the recognition of both critics and readers.
Donna Leon (2014)
Donna Leon (New Jersey, 1942) studied in Perugia and Siena and then worked as a tourist guide in Rome and as an English teacher in a number of North American schools in Europe and Asia. She has lived in Venice since 1981, where she concentrates on her two great passions: opera and literature. Her novels feature Venetian police commissioner Guido Brunetti as their main character.
John Banville (2015)
John Banville (Wexford, Ireland, 1945) has written numerous novels and is considered one of the best current writers in English. He has been awarded a number of prizes for his work, including the Booker Prize, the Kafka Prize, the Irish PEN Award, the Austrian State Prize for European literature and the Prince of Asturias Prize for literature.
Claudio Magris (2016)
Claudio Magris (Trieste, 1939) is Professor of German Literature at the University of Trieste. An essayist and translator of Ibsen, Kleist and Schnitzler among others, he is one of the greatest figures of contemporary Italian literature. He is the author of such outstanding works as Danube, Microcosm, Blindly, Utopia e disincanto [Utopia and Disenchantment] and La letteratura è la mia vendetta [Literature is my revenge], among others.
Yasmina Reza (2017)
Yasmina Reza (Paris, 1959) is the author of the play Art, one of the most widely performed comedies worldwide, which premièred at the Comédie des Champs-Elysées in 1994. Her work questions the principles that govern our times, such as family relations, ideologies and the canons of contemporary art.
Almudena Grandes (2018)
Almudena Grandes (Madrid, 1960) made her name with The Ages of Lulu, a novel that won her the 11th Sonrisa Vertical Prize. Her books have been acclaimed by readers and critics alike ever since.
Mia Couto (2019)
Couto is one of the most important Portuguese-language writers and the most widely translated author in Mozambique. She has received various literary awards throughout her career, including the Vergílio Ferreira, the Latin Union, the Camões and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Sant Jordi / St George’s Day Dialogue. Empar Moliner (2020)
Empar Moliner spoke with the critic Julià Guillamon about the content of her work, about reading and about the role played by libraries in her literary development.
Irene Vallejo (2021)
Irene Vallejo (Zaragoza,1979) holds a degree in Classical Philology and obtained her European doctorate from the universities of Zaragoza and Florence. Since she was a child she has always been interested in the myths of ancient Greece and Rome and the Mediterranean world. She is currently involved in intensive work to disseminate the classical world. Her work L’infinit dins d’un jonc completely won over readers and critics.
Imma Monsó (2022)
Imma Monsó i Fornell (Lleida, 1959) is a writer, and has also worked as a foreign language teacher. Since the publication of her third novel, Tot un caràcter, in 2001, she has been regarded as one of the leading women writers of her literary generation.