Novelist Javier Cercas sets Catalonia ablaze

TOnear his detective story Terra Alta (Actes Sud, 320 pages, 22.50 euros), the writer Javier Cercas released in Spain, in March, the second episode of the adventures of the Catalan inspector Melchor Marin. In Independence (“Independence”, ed. Tusquets), whose action takes place around 2025, the police officer, former delinquent and son of a prostitute, is this time in charge of solving a case of blackmail against the new mayor of Barcelona, a populist with xenophobic discourse, victim of “Sextortion”. For the purposes of his investigation, he plunges into a sordid universe, where the offspring of the Catalan upper bourgeoisie live above the law, enveloped in a halo of impunity, mixing business and politics, and committing the worst crimes.

Behind a well-conducted police intrigue, Javier Cercas draws a disillusioned picture of the moral corruption of political and economic elites. It could happen anywhere, but the choice of the title, a bit provocative, leaves no doubt about the author’s desire to lay bare “The soil on which the independence process pushed”, he admits to World. the ” fuel “ of this novel as of the previous one is the “Pre-bellicose climate” autumn 2017 in Catalonia, marked by an attempt at secession that divided society and turned the life of this 59-year-old author, Catalan by adoption since he was 4 years old. If barely three pages are devoted to this episode, they are sufficient to demystify the nationalist liturgy. In 2025, no one is talking about independence, which a character describes as a vast manipulation of “Masses” Catalan, mounted by the elites for “Put pressure on Madrid”, during economic crisis.

“Attempted intimidation”

The novel could only provoke controversy in Catalonia. Cercas expected it, he who defines, often and publicly, this movement as “A manifestation of reactionary and insolidary national-populism”. However, he did not expect the ” Assembly “ of which he was a victim. While a guest on the very pro-independence Catalan public channel TV3, an anonymous Twitter account posted a fragment of a 2019 intervention taken out of context to accuse him of being in favor of military intervention in Catalonia. The account quickly disappeared, while the video was taken up by several personalities, including the lawyer for the former president of the Catalan government Carles Puigdemont.

You have 21.22% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.