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Book Presentation 'Outlaws: Javier Cercas in conversation with Paul Preston'

Friday 23 May 2014
London Review Bookshop - Catalan Observatory
Outlaws: Javier Cercas in conversation with Paul Preston
Time: 19 h.
Place: London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, London WC1A 2JL


Outlaws tells the story of three young delinquents in Girona (northern Catalonia, Spain) during the beginning of the Spanish Transition. Inspired by the true story of 'El Vaquilla’, Cercas’ portrait of these young quinquis is based on the same historical research of his other works, Soldiers of Salamis (2001) and The Anatomy of a Moment (2009).

Following the presentation of his book, Paul Preston highlighted the importance of distinguishing between reality and fiction, remarking on Cercas’ good manners in not crossing this line. Preston also noted the recent ‘boom’ in novels that deal with the Spanish Civil War, applauding Cercas’ text in the rigour demonstrated by its historical recreation. He explained that whilst the historian uses his imagination to decipher historical sources, the novelist uses fantasy to bring to life historical fact. Both Cercas and Preston agreed on the complementarity relationship between each others’ work.

Javier Cercas is currently a profesor of Spanish literature at the University of Girona and has been a columnist at El País since 1997. He rose to fame in the English-speaking world with The Soldiers of Salamis, which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2004. He continued his exploration of modern Spanish history with The Anatomy of a Moment, a work of non-fiction that investigated the failed coup of 1981. The text he presented with Paul Preston, Outlaws, is a return to fiction; a fast-paced and morally complex tale of disaffected youth, set in the period just after the end of the Franco dictatorship.

Paul Preston responds to a question from an audience member, next to Javier Cercas

Part of the audience during the event