Barcelona Best Novels
Stuck at home? Looking for a change of scenery? We offer you a trip to Barcelona without moving from your sofa! The capital is the setting for many exciting novels that take you through the streets of the city and through the ages. We have selected the best short stories set in Barcelona that will take you back in time and make you want to visit the city!
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón
It is a worldwide bestseller with more than 20 million copies sold making it one of the best-selling books of all time. Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the “Cemetery of Lost Books”, a library of obscure and forgotten titles. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax. This book will change the course of his life, mark him forever and lead him into a labyrinth of adventures and secrets. If you want to turn fiction into reality, there are a number of city tours offering a walk in the footsteps of the main characters and discover the places described in the book.
Tattoo, Manuel Vazquez Montalban
Tattoo is the first volume of the adventures of Pepe Carvalho, the star detective of Manuel Vazquez Montalban. Carvalho is a Catalan private detective, ex-cop, communist and above all a lover of good food. The investigation starts with a faceless corpse fished out of the sea.
Carvalho only got one clue an unusual tattoo is still visible: “Born to Raise Hell in Hell” the mission is launched! From Barcelona to Amsterdam, all the suppositions are good but have to be verified.
In total, more than 25 books follow Pepe Carvalho around Barcelona. If you like thrillers, you won’t be disappointed! And if you like cooking: the author always finds an excuse to include Catalan recipes in his novels.
Tattoo has also been adapted into a comic book available in Spanish.
The Time of the doves, Mercè Rodoreda
Diamond Square is a magnificent fresco of life in Barcelona in the 20th century before, during and after the Spanish Civil War. The Gabriel García Marquez Nobel Prize for Literature has described this book as the most beautiful novel published in Spain since the Civil War. The book recounts the banal life of an ordinary woman from the Gràcia district.
This unadorned story becomes a literary masterpiece that takes us back in time.
Barcelona ! Grégoire Polet
Polet represents Barcelona through some twenty characters whose destinies cross, weave, lose and find each other. From 2008 to 2012, as the Spanish get bogged down in the economic crisis, the indignant rise and independence begins its great comeback, we follow the private lives of the characters, their points of view, their worries and adventures, their ambitions, their beliefs, which are often contradictory.
At the centre of this tangle of intrigues, Barcelona in majesty: its architecture, its history and its atmospheres.
Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
This author has recently returned to the forefront for his work 1984, which is often quoted to criticise the social distancing measures linked to covid. Even if his homage to Catalonia is less well known, it is just as interesting. It is not fiction, but a collection of Orwell’s experiences while he was fighting for the militia of the Republican army during the Spanish civil war. Orwell describes the atmosphere in the capital as it appears to him.
It is one of the best books on the reality of the civil war in Barcelona.
Cathedral of the sea, Ildefonso Falcones
Falcones is a passionate connoisseur of medieval Spain. His novel is about adventures, justice, love and betrayal. We witness the rise of a young man from nothing at the same time as the Cathedral of Santa María del Mar was built in the 14th century. He first took part in the building site before triumphing and becoming consul and close to the king. When it was published in 2006, The Cathedral of the Sea was one of the best-selling novels of the year with more than 2 million copies sold.
There is also a series inspired by the book, recently released on Netflix:
The city of prodigies, Eduardo Mendoza
The best-seller on the founding epic of Barcelona. An uneducated young man arrives in the city at the turn of the century, during the Universal Exhibition of 1888. He will make his fortune. Truculence and wonder are the hallmarks of this masterpiece of world literature.
If you were to read just one book by a Catalan writer…
And finally for a gastronomic journey and a plunge into the origins of Catalan cuisine and its traditions:
The taste of Barcelona, the history of Catalan cooking and eating, H.Rosi Song and A.Riera
Song and Riera richly document the origins of Catalan cooking in this book, from the Middle Ages to the present. They also focus on the rise of famous chefs as Ferran Adrià of the restaurant elBulli, soon to reopen as elBulli 1846.
Digging deep into the history of medieval Spain, they examine Muslim influence on both Spanish food and culture, and also how French gastronomy shaped Spanish cuisine. A section on Barcelona’s restaurants is included, with a glimpse at their histories and how they contribute to the overall gastronomic landscape of the city.
We hope you liked this article and that it made you want to visit us in Barcelona.