Institut Ramon LLull

Miquel de Palol: Storytelling Shape-shifters at the Toronto International Festival of Authors

Literature.  Toronto, 27/08/2023

Both set in the not-so-distant future, Jason Guriel’s and Miquel de Palol’s new novels imagine worlds shaped by natural and man-made disasters. Playful in form and deeply imaginative, these two stories explore the impact of pop culture, humanity’s impact on the planet, and the enduring power of story to get us through the darkest of times.

In Miquel de Palol’s The Garden of Seven Twilights, during an atomic alarm in Barcelona in the year 2025, the thirty-year old hero takes refuge in a luxurious mansion in the mountains where he is put up, along with other guests, awaiting the outcome of the conflict. For the following seven days the residents of the mansion spend their spare time reading and taking walks , and, above all, telling stories to each other. The narrators (most of whom belong to the generation thirty years older than the hero's) are eight in number, and the stories they tell can be taken as autonomous ones, although, as the novel advances, it may soon be that when juxtaposed, they do indeed weave a web of intrigue about a family of bankers—a web that gradually involves some of the guests in the mansion.

Miquel de Palol (Barcelona, 1953) is one of the signal voices of contemporary Catalan letters. An architect by trade, he began to publish poetry at 19, and averaged a book of verse per year before bringing out El jardí dels set crepuscles, the novel many consider to be his masterpiece, in 1989. The author claims he considers this first work of narrative fiction a continuation of themes pursued in his earlier poetry. Remarkably prolific, Palol has published some forty books, including works of short fiction, children’s stories, and essays, and is a frequent contributor to the Spanish and Catalan press.

Miquel de Palol is published by Deep Vellum. The Garden of Seven Twilights was translated by Adrian Nathan West.

Presented with support from the Institut Ramon Lull.

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