The Manchester Literature Festival: Jordi Punti
Instituto Cervantes on Thursday, October 10th
“Maletes Perdudes” (“Lost Luggage”) is the latest award-winning novel of Jordi Punti, who is considered as one of the most important “voices” of Catalan Literature. While Punti is renowned for his short stories, he chose to pleasantly surprise his readership, with a novel about loneliness, family and forgiveness. Four brothers embark on a trip, a “quest” to discover their lost father, but also themselves in that process.
Once I was informed about the presentation’s location, I must admit I anticipated an experience of Spanish calibre. The imposing, beautiful interior of the neoclassical building, in combination with the “Spanish aroma” of conversations around me, had created a very warm and welcoming atmosphere from the start. I expected to see an author possessing Mediterranean temperamento, eager and passionate to talk about his novel and Catalan Literature, while sharing his ideas, concerns, and inspirations: my expectations were exceeded on all levels.
A small passage of the novel had already been distributed. The reading of the first chapter, though, gave great insight on the novel’s story, characters and intentions; it begins with a thirty year-old memory of four brothers as kids, witnessing their father, a truck driver, abandoning them. As narration proceeds, the reader soon finds out that the four brothers are actually half-brothers, witnessing the same scene of their common father’s departure, each one of them located in a different European city (Barcelona, Frankfurt, Paris, London). It is not until thirty years later that they meet and decide to look for him. All four bear the same name in language variations (“Christof, Christophe, Christopher and Cristofol”).
Punti dedicated most of his presentation to the personal experience that inspired him for his novel, hence making the presentation more intimate. His inspiration was triggered by an actual move from Frankfurt to Barcelona with a truck. The title stems quite interestingly from an actual loss of a suitcase during that move, which was finally recovered in Portugal. When asked about how he gathered the information of the every- day living in the ‘60s and ‘70s in these countries, he replied that he had lived in them all for some time, and his encounters with every-day people also helped him significantly.
In reference and questions to Catalan literature, he mentioned the term “internationalization”, not merely regarding stories, but translations as well. He used the above term on the grounds of Barcelona’s increasing recognition, especially after the Olympics. He was concerned though, that the Catalans do not use travelling experiences in literature or movement anymore. He wished they stopped being so isolated and closed in their mentality. Punti is a prominent translator and in response to questions regarding this ability, he highlighted the importance of the translator’s discovery of his identity. While story and drama are a great concern of his, he pointed that the preservation of technical and linguistic Catalan details are of equal importance.
In his presentation, Jordi “dismantled” the enigma of his novel’s inspiration, and promoted constructive conclusions in a wider context. With the pretense of “Lost Luggage” the audience witnessed the beautiful and intelligent story the novel unfolds, in relation to contemporary Catalan Literature and its contribution to European Literature and culture. His final question was: what would he do if he ever found lost luggage? Return or keep it?