Barcelona (EFE).- The journalist and writer Juan Cal, who has just published “Crim al bancal”, avoids the label of ‘rural thriller’ to encompass crime novels that take place outside the Barcelona metropolitan area, while vindicating “literature of some authors and publishers who do not have their base in the capital”.
In an interview with Efe, Cal (Pontevedra, 1956) says he is not “too much in favor of the phrase ‘rural thriller’ because, I think, it does not explain precisely what kind of literature we are talking about”, and in this sense he warns that “Crim al terrace” (Pagès editors), can confuse the reader because in the novel “only one farmer appears, the one who finds the corpse in the first chapter”.
“What there is in Catalonia -he specifies- is a black literature, in different shades, which does not have its base in the capital’s publishers and whose authors reside outside the metropolitan area”, some writers who have burst into “a powerful genre in the Spanish Catalan, with a variety of very interesting linguistic, thematic and geographical registers”.
In this sense, Cal recalls that no one wonders “if Jo Nesbo’s novels are rural because they occur in small towns in Norway, only if they are good or not.”
Among the Catalan authors that Juan Cal stands out in this extra-capital current, he cites Emili Bayo from Lleida, whose books “are absolutely canonical in the cultivation of the genre”, or Siliva Mayans from Tarragona, “who offers an ‘ebrenc’ touch to stories that could happen in Cornella.
Beyond the initial appearance in a plot with apple trees in a town in Lleida of a first charred corpse, “Crim al bancal” includes the usual protagonists of the genre: journalists, police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, terrorists, politicians, criminals or prostitutes. , a constellation of characters that move around the investigation into the dead person and the suspicions of the involvement in the crime of a corrupt plot.
With an agile style, in which the dialogues structure the framework of the novel, with moments of certain drama and others of a relaxed tone in which ironic comments stand out, the novel also reflects social changes and addresses aspects such as the abuse of power political, economic or gender.
Abundant culinary references slip through the story and authors who transferred this knowledge to its pages, such as Josep Pla and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, whom Juan Cal considers “by far the greatest of Spanish detective writers, as well as a great poet.” , journalist and essayist”.
A “MONTALBANIANA” LOOK
“When I considered starting ‘Crim al bancal’, my first thought was to imagine how Vázquez Montalbán would have written it, but without Carvalho, Biscúter or Charo, although with characters who were somehow indebted to them. Of course, gastronomy, books, the pleasures of life, are the consequence of that “Montalbanian” look at literature”, admits Cal.
In the novel, Juan Cal, who has dedicated most of his professional life to journalism, within the newspaper Segre, where he has held all positions, radiographs the work of the correspondents in the provinces of the capital’s newspapers, from their availability to their precarious working conditions.
“This situation, despite the undeniable advances in terms of labor protection, continues to exist in some cases, such as the ‘regional’ correspondents,” he points out, adding that “the media in Barcelona, as well as those in Madrid, they are hardly interested in the stories that occur more than a kilometer from the newsroom. Unless it is a sinister and gruesome crime”.
CONCERNED ABOUT ‘THREATS’ TO JOURNALISM
Cal considers that his perspective is not that of an essayist or analyst, “but of a professional concerned about the threats of contemporary journalism: false news, social networks, excessive haste, job insecurity or competition from platforms that do not comply with the minimum requirements of rigor and veracity”.
With a career at Segre in which “I’ve done everything”, from head of photocomposition to editor, coordinator of the culture supplement and director, he explains that his passion “has always been writing, telling stories to people, responsibly exercising a office that, because it is a public service, must be exercised with all the respect in the world towards the reader, and towards the truth”.
Author of three novels in Spanish, “Crim al Bancal” is Cal’s debut in the Catalan language, which the author decided because, after writing or editing articles and reports in Catalan for 40 years, it was “a personal challenge” for ” show me that my Catalan was also rich and varied enough to face a story of one hundred and forty thousand words”.
The novel is dotted with moments in which blues, soul or rock songs by singers or groups such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, The Allman Brothers, Cream, Buddy Guy, JJ Cale or Jefferson Airplane, among others, ” the soundtrack of a generation, the one that lived through the fight against Francoism, against the Vietnam War and other similar causes”, explains Cal.
“Those who want to hear it, know that there is a music list on Spotify with the name ‘Crim al bancal’, reveals the author.