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What Catalans Want [Paperback]

Toni Strubell , Llu?'s Brunet

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Book Description

July 1 2011
"What Catalans Want" takes a concerned look at Catalonia at a time when the country's political future as a Spanish autonomous region is being questioned for the first time since it came into being in 1980. It does so by talking to 30 representative Catalan and non-Catalan personalities in various key areas of public life. Interest for an English and American readership has been the main guideline for their selection. The book's aim is to discover why so many Catalans feel as uncomfortable about forming part of Spain as they feel comfortable about being members of the EU. Could the Catalan question, fanned by ongoing Spanish oppression and incomprehension, be welling up into a political issue of the same order as Scotland's or Flanders'? The book delves into a question that cannot be overlooked by concentrating on what matters most: the opinion of those affected-from the presidents of Catalonia and FC Barcelona to experts in every area. This book appears at a time when events have bowled over the country's traditional image as an "oasis" of satisfaction enjoying what was seen as an "ample" margin of autonomy and economic welfare. Independent polls now reveal that close to 40% of Catalans would like to have a State of their own. The book also delves into the 2009-2011 unofficial independentist polls that were held in over 500 municipalities in which over 90% of participants voted for independence. Why have things come to a head? And parallel to this, why do most foreign tourists visiting the country have so little idea about what is going on? The book opens with an enlightening and poignant prologue by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín. The book is beautifully illustrated with photographer Lluís Brunet's remarkable portraits of the interviewees.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Catalonia Press (July 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611500095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611500097
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 21.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 621 g

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important look at independence from inside Catalonia March 13 2013
By Steve T - Published on Amazon.com
This book makes no attempt whatsoever to be impartial or present both sides of the Catalan independence debate but that is not its purpose. Most foreign correspondents are based in Madrid and are naturally influenced by the steady drip, drip, drip (and indeed the occasional burst pipe) of anti-'Catalanism' rhetoric in the national press. As a result, English-language coverage of Catalan independence tends to range from the patronising to the outright contemptuous, with various meanders into utter bafflement along the way.

Strubell's book addresses this by giving a range of prominent Catalans a platform to explain their thoughts and feelings on different aspects of Catalonia's current situation. The well-conducted interviews are divided into various categories: Country, Economy, Memory, Culture, Media and Foreign Insights. While separatism is not a universal theme it is regularly touched upon and would undoubtedly have been even more prominent had these interviews been conducted after last year's massive pro-independence rally in Barcelona.

Strubell is a capable interviewer and writer and the book is consistently interesting. The legacy of Franco on Spain and Catalonia resurfaces many times. While this is understandable given the author's family history, it does perhaps conflate the problems facing Catalonia with those affecting all of Spain; neither resistance to Franco nor damage inflicted by his regime were restricted to Catalonia.

This minor quibble aside, the book is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Catalonia or Spain who wishes to more fully understand a complex situation that is likely to dominate debate in the years to come as the independence question finally moves into the mainstream political agenda.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catalonia Separate? Feb. 8 2013
By gtr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book when I recently returned from Barcelona. Why do Catalonians want to separate from Spain? To me it seemed like a very bad idea as they are doing very well as they are and separating cannot possibly be economically viable in the long term. After reading this book, I felt I understood why they want to separate. It still doesn't seem like a good idea to me, but at least I feel I understand the issues a bit better. I wish I'd read it BEFORE I went to Barcelona. The book was a bit repetitive but easy to read in sections over a long period of time. You didn't need to remember one section in order to read the next. The people interviewed were highly intelligent and articulate. If only the politicians were as capable as the people interviewed for this book, there would be some hope for Spain AND Catalonia.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book for English-Speakers Oct. 11 2012
By Roger Evans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely useful book, presenting a variety of viewpoints concerning the role of Catalonia in the world -- in the form of interviews with leaders in various cultural areas: politics, sports, economics, literature, etc. They don't all agree on every point (notably in their degree of optimism), but a critical mass of evidence is built up supporting the importance of Catalonia far beyond the borders of that possible "new state of Europe."
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars insight into catalan mentality Sept. 11 2012
By barçascot - Published on Amazon.com
This is a fascinating exploration of the Catalan desire for independence. As a Scottish emigre to Catalunya of five years standing, I was from the outset emotionally and culturally sympathetic to the cause without fully understanding the issues. After a year or two, I began to temper my enthusiasm for independence with a dose of scepticism, since I had begun to perceive the problem to be simply one of unfair economic distribution, with the movement driven mainly by a minority group of fanatics, and the prospect of electoral power as chimeric, given the demographics of the population. It was thus something of a revelation to be introduced to Toni's book of interviews with such a diverse range of prominent Catalans: I learned so much about the disdainful, obstructionist approach of the Madrid government (freight train route, suffocation of Barcelona El Prat airport etc. etc.)that I have done a volte face and my sympathies are once again on the side of the independentistas: it now seems that independence is the only way to guarantee Catalunya's economic development. The range of interviewees is quite astonishing, and the unity of voice quite uplifting. This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the so-called Catalan question. I post this review of course on the Catalan Diada, when millions are expected to march in the streets of Barcelona in favour of political separation. Visca Catalunya!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read if you're interested in Catalan issues June 14 2012
By MS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of information from a Catalan perspective about contemporary Catalan politics in English - until this book. It is a series of interviews with most of Catalunya's political and cultural movers and shakers, and gives a deep and nuanced perspective on the debate for Catalan independence, the Barcelona-Madrid power dynamic, and internal Catalan politics. Definitely a must-read for interested anglophones.

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