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Divendres  05.09.2014  15:41

Spanish Embassy censors catalan book presentation in Utrecht

Dutch press calls 'censorship' performance of the Spanish government · 'Victus' is a Catalan historical bestseller by novelist Albert Sánchez Piñol


The presentation of the Dutch version of the novel Victus, a Catalan historical bestseller by novelist Albert Sánchez Piñol at the Instituto Cervantes in Utrecht has been suspended at the last minute as a result of Spanish Embassy pressures. Sánchez Piñol presented the book in Amsterdam on Wednesday, just a week after of the release of the Dutch translation. At the end of the event, during the question time, a woman who said she represented the Spanish embassy strated speaking, attacking the book.

According to Miquel Calçada, commissioner's of the Tricentenari (commemorations for the events of 1714), she was the same woman who spoke in April at a conference in Utrecht, by Clara Ponsatí. She read a statement --long, well prepeared-- which claimed that the historical data of the novel 'Victus' were distorted and attacked the Catalan self-determination process. The presenter of the event cut off the intervention, because it was too much extensive. The author expressed his surprise at this performance, and the audience warmly applauded the Sánchez Piñol's response .

Then, the book presentation scheduled in Utrecht on Thursday, was suspended.

Victus is a historical bestseller novel that narrates the War of the Spanish Succession, a conflict that could be considered one of the first world struggles. Although in 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht concluded a ceasefire among both sides, the Catalans kept fighting to protect their rights and freedoms. That fight ended on 11 September 1714 with the apocalyptic assault on Barcelona. The novel was written originally in Spanish and it was translated into Catalan later on. The translation rights were sold to publish the book in English, Russian, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Korean.

Dutch press reaction

Dutch press has reacted with surprise to the actions of the Spanish government. They unanimously called it 'censorship'. In various articles they note that 'Victus' is a novel and they describe as grotesque the Spanish Embassy performance.

-NOS: Spanje verbiedt lezing in Utrecht

-NRC Handelsblad: Spaanse ambassade blaast lezing Sánchez Piñol af

Not the first time

But this is no isolated case. For months, people involved in foreign relations for the Generalitat have been complaining about pressure received by the Spanish diplomatic corps with regard to academic or political activity that they have organized to explain the sovereignty process to the world.