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Novels set in Barcelona

Cultura Culture 17/04/2024
a poster for novelas ambientadas en barcelona shows a stack of books and a map

Barcelona is preparing for another year to celebrate one of its most emblematic festivities: Sant Jordi's Day. During this day, the aroma of fresh roses and the bustle of readers intertwine in a festival where love, literature and Catalan culture merge in a very special celebration.

In this article, we will immerse ourselves in the literary universe that finds its inspiration in the magical corners of Barcelona. Through the pages of these novels, you can discover the mysteries, passions and intertwined stories that turn the city into an unparalleled setting for literature. Every corner of Barcelona comes to life in the hands of writers who have succumbed to its charm.

We have prepared a very special literary list where novels by great authors will take you to get lost in the streets of the city and celebrate the magic of Sant Jordi among pages full of history, romance, mystery and adventure.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Barcelona described in the books of Carlos Ruiz Zafón is like Dickens's London. When he published his first novel of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books tetralogy, in 2001, he became a literary icon of the city. The saga takes place in Barcelona in 1945 and Daniel Sempere is the undisputed protagonist who accompanies the reader through the streets of the city. The first book was “ The Shadow of the Wind ” (2001) and it was his most famous novel.

There is also another somewhat less well-known novel by the author, “ Marina ” (1999), with a more youthful theme that takes place in Barcelona in the 1980s and helps young readers navigate its streets through reading.

Eduardo Mendoza

He is one of the most prominent contemporary writers in Spanish literature, and his relationship with Barcelona is fundamental in much of his work, where he reflects the social, cultural and political evolution of the city over the decades. Although it has a large number of very famous novels, of those based on the city, we could name two as the most notable:

  • The City of Wonders ” (1986): based on Barcelona during the period from the Universal Exhibition of 1888 to the Spanish Civil War. This novel portrays the transformation of the city, its industrial growth, and the social and political changes it experienced in a way and style that only Eduardo Mendoza is capable of achieving.

  • The truth about the Savolta Case ” (1975): set in Barcelona at the beginning of the 20th century, it revolves around a plot of business intrigues and conspiracies. This novel is an intelligent and fun tragicomedy, which placed Eduardo Mendoza among the most outstanding narrators of recent decades.

Carmen Laforet

The relationship between Barcelona and Carmen Laforet is closely linked to her most famous novel, “ Nada ” (1945). Winner of the Nadal Prize the same year of its publication. It is a fundamental work of 20th century Spanish literature and is set in post-war Barcelona. The novel narrates the experience of Andrea, a young woman who arrives in Barcelona to study at university and faces an oppressive family environment and a city marked by desolation, poverty and repression. Through Andrea's eyes, the author portrays the suffocating atmosphere and moral decadence of Barcelona society at the time.

Ildefonso Falcones

We are faced with another contemporary author who has explored the city of Barcelona in several of his novels. His connection with the city is especially reflected in two of his works:

  • The Cathedral of the Sea ” (2006) is a historical novel that transports the reader to Barcelona in the 14th century, during the construction of the basilica of Santa María del Mar, now known as the Cathedral of the Sea and which has made it so famous. . The novel is an epic portrait of medieval Barcelona, marked by class struggle, social injustice and the search for freedom and dignity.

  • The Painter of Souls ” (2019), tells a powerful story of love, passion for art, social unrest and revenge in the modernist Barcelona of 1901.

Mercé Rodoreda

She is one of the most important writers of 20th century Catalan literature and, although not all of her novels are directly inspired by Barcelona, the city plays a significant role in several of her works. One of the most notable novels is " La plaça del Diamant " (1962), which follows the life of Natalia, a young woman living in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and the years after.

The author had a deep emotional bond with Barcelona, and her novels reflect her love for the city, leaving a lasting and relevant literary legacy.

Josep Maria Sagarra

His literary work is closely linked to the city of Barcelona where he lived and experienced the social, political and cultural changes that occurred throughout the 20th century, and many of these elements are reflected in his novels. Although he is not as internationally known as other contemporary Catalan writers, his work is appreciated for his observation of everyday life and his ability to capture the essence of Barcelona in different times and contexts.

One of his most notable works is “ Private Life ” (1932) which follows the life of a Catalan gentry family, offering an intimate and often critical look at social conventions and family relationships in Barcelona at the beginning of the 20th century.

Juan Marse

Prominent Catalan writer whose work is deeply rooted in Barcelona. Born in 1933 and died in 2014, Marsé grew up in the working-class neighborhoods of the city and his experiences in that environment influenced much of his literary work.

One of Marsé's most emblematic novels is " Last afternoons with Teresa " (1966), which takes place in Barcelona in the 1960s with the relationship between a working-class young man, Pijoaparte, and an upper-class girl, Teresa, in a context of social and political change in the city. Through this love story, Marsé offers a critical vision of social inequalities and class conflicts in Barcelona.

If you are a great lover of literature and want to discover all the literary corners of the city, there are a large number of literary routes around the city, the most famous is the Carlos Ruiz Zafón, but you can also use the Literary Map that the City Council has prepared of Barcelona with all the most emblematic points related to the authors inspired and/or linked to the city.