Postcard from... Spain


Click to follow
The Independent Online


Part of Barcelona’s literary heritage disappeared off the map on Saturday, when the Cervantes-Canuda antiquarian bookshop – whose cellar served as a key element of inspiration for Carlos Ruíz Zafón’s worldwide bestseller The Shadow of the Wind and its Cemetery of Forgotten Books – closed its doors for good.

For most of its 82 years, the Cervantes-Canuda bookshop was crammed with 200,000 volumes of an eclectic mix of literature and non-fiction. The sheer number of books, many uncatalogued, produced anything from bewilderment to claustrophobia and amazement – and in Ruíz Zafón’s novel, not a little fear.

“This [closure] has been a death foretold” Santiago Mallafré, the owner, said. Rapidly rising rents in Barcelona’s centre may have been the culprit for the Cervantes-Canuda’s demise, but it and many other bookstores in Spain have also been hit hard by the recession. In Barcelona alone, the almost equally venerable Platón and Roquer shops, have also closed recently.

Mr Mallafré says he may re-open his bookshop elsewhere in Barcelona in a smaller premises. “Old books have a different kind of magic and charm that is very important,” he insists.  A spell in the Cemetery of  Forgotten Books, though, is now only possible via reading.