Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thania Muñoz's Final Post on La Semana Negra '08

Exclusive reports from Crime Fiction's international big-bash by
our roving reporter.

The closing ceremony of
La Semana Negra, was held July 20 at 12pm in the biggest tent. It was rainy, and although Poniente’s beach was muddy, a lot of Gijoneses were present to make this as special as previous days.

Paco Taibo, II started the ceremony with a speech commenting on all the struggles that the organization of La Semana Negra has to go through every year to bring this event to the city. He thanked the city of Gijón for its unconditional support and acknowledged that although every year there are complaints about the noise, people, trash, and more, the number of people that attend proves to the city and to the few complainers that La Semana Negra is all about bringing literature and people together, about having a good time with family and friends.

This year around a million people attended, and 51,000 books were sold. This shows the popularity of the event, and how even though our societies are changing, books and literature are still an important part of our lives. After the mayor, Taibo II, and city officials finished their speeches, the traditional “Rufo” prizes (La Semana Negra’s mascot--a black, chubby, figurine) was given to the persons who play a big role in the organization, security, planning, etc. in making La Semana Negra a successful ten-day event.

Since this is my last post on La Semana Negra I would like to highlight what I believe were some of the most incredible moments in Gijón. This is not a ranking, only a biased list of what I believe made these ten days so unforgettable.

1. The beautiful Asturian city of Gijón and its great weather. Not too hot, not to cold. Although they were warm days, a swim in the ocean freshened people right up, and the rain only made the city more beautiful because it would only last a day and the next day the city was sunny with clean and shiny streets.

2. The Taibo family. They were always present at the events and offered you their help, smiles and good sense of humor. Paco Ignacio Taibo, II dedicates three months of the year to the planning of La Semana Negra, and anyone can definitely notice the love he puts into it. Twenty-one years don’t go unnoticed. His wife Paloma Saiz and daughter Marina also play a big role and deserve recognition: Thank you!

3. The invited writers. The list of writers is very long, but I would like to highlight Cuban writers, Amir Valle, Lorenzo Lunar and Rebeca. Not only excellent writers, but also wonderful people.

4. The Colombians,
Mario Mendoza, and Nahum Montt, who called themselves “the grandkids of Gabriel García Márquez”, who “unlike his sons, don’t owe him anything.” Their thriller and detective fiction about Colombia, a clear and non-magical realistic picture of this South American country.

5. The interview and everyday conversations with
Rolando Hinojosa, an intelligent man and as Daniel Olivas calls him, “one of the maestros.” His advice, not only journalistic but also academic, and most importantly all he had to say about the years he has attended La Semana Negra, made me work hard every day, take notes, record the literary sessions, and hope that one day I will become as smart as him. Truly an inspiration.

6. The every-day 5:00 tertulias at the main tent, where you could learn everything about the writers: from their writing techniques, their geeky side, to what they drink and eat when they write. And also deep conversations on evil vs. good, monsters in literature, etc. There are not a lot of places where this still happens, or if you know where it does, please let me know.

7. The book presentations, where you could hear a writer present their book, answer questions, sign books, and have conversations with readers afterward. A very intimate experience where people have the opportunity to take pictures with the writers and maybe even ask them out. I swear I didn’t try this.

8. “La velada poética”-Poetry night. An incredible night with world famous poetas José Emilio Pacheco, Joaquin Sabina and Luis García Montero. There is something about a room full of people eager and anxious to listen to their favorites poets. The hour or so that the poets recited was a surreal experience, definitely one of the main events of La Semana Negra. So if after reading so much about La Semana Negra on La Bloga you decide that it's surely worth making such a far away trip next year, believe me--the poetry night will be worth all your dollars spent. You can check out a really good video of this event on YouTube.

9. The night dedicated to
Ángel González. The poetry night, held Friday the 18th will be marked in the history of La Semana Negra as the night Gijón remembered and paid loving tribute and respect to a great and dearly loved poet.

10. The Semana Negra book, food, and jewelry tents--the free spirit and relaxing attitude of the people and the event itself; the smell of churros accompanying you as you go around the tents trying to find that particular book you know you can only find in Spain; watching families spending time together; walking around the fair or sitting on the sand reading a book.

I would like to thank La Bloga, especially Daniel Olivas for all the support and RudyG for posting my reports (cropping pictures, editing, and much more), and to all the people that have been reading and commenting on them (Norma Landa Flores, always the first and sweetest). It has been a great experience being La Bloga’s “roving reporter” and attending La Semana Negra itself. Here is my email for questions, concerns, and whatever else comes to mind: thaniamunoz AT yahoo.com.

Saludos desde Los Angeles,

I love La Bloga!
Thania Muñoz


msedano said...

¡Ajua! Tania. Thank you for your reports on such a wondrous celebration. Did you get the material you sought on the Mexican writer, after all, your raison d'etre for Semana Negra-ing? And, I hope you're subsisting on more than beans and tortillas.


Manuel Ramos said...

Thania - congratulations again on a wonderful job reporting about the surreal and amazing experience that is Semana Negra. Although nothing can replace being in Gijón, your dispatches recreated much of the color, excitement, and life of the event. You enriched my drab days, for sure. Gracias,

Anonymous said...

We'll always remember your contributions to La Bloga and your refreshing reports about La Semana Negra.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings with readers.

Cristina said...

¡Gran trabajo, Thania! Has captado de maravilla el espíritu de la Semana Negra. Ahora que por fin he dormido una semana entera, he leído todos tus posts seguidos, y ha sido como si hubiera estado allí... Bueno, sí que estuve allí. ¡Ha sido como si estuviera allí SIN TRABAJAR! :D Siempre, siempre serás bienvenida. Gijón y la Semana Negra son tu casa.

Cristina Macía

Lisa Alvarado said...

Thania -- it's been a joy to read your posts...I feel like I've taken the trip as well. Thanks so much for your sparkling, detailed coverage and for gracing La Bloga with your guesting!


Rene Colato Lainez said...

Great job Tania,

He aprendido sobre la Semana Negra en España.


René Colato Laínez

Thania said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thania said...

¡Gracias a todos!
It has been a pleasure being La Bloga’s reporter/guest blogista! I’m so happy that people have enjoyed my posts and thank you for all the kind comments. It’s been a great learning experience, literary and budgeting wise, so don’t worry I’m subsisting on more than beans and tortillas! Reading today’s comments I saw the name Cristina Macía; She is in charge of la Semana Negra’s organization team in Gijón, I’m so glad that she enjoy the posts also (I’m happily screaming right now!!)
The last thing I would like to say is,
I Love La Bloga!

Daniel A. Olivas said...

And we love you, Thania!

Anonymous said...

Gracias, querida Thania por la hermosa foto que me has enviado al email personal y que ahora veo en la bloga, gracias por las lindas palabras que dices sobre nosotros y gracias, especialmente, por tu excelente reporte sobre esa hermosa locura que sigue siendo la Semana Negra.
Un beso mío y de toda mi familia

Amir, Berta, Tony y Lior

Anonymous said...

Gracias, Thania, for these wonderful reports re Semana Negra. I hoped to make it this year, but...y me duele no haberlo hecho. After reading your posts, I know I have to make it to Semana Negra next year. Lucha