Book Review: “Barcelona, Catalonia” by Matthew Tree

Matthew Tree’s articles have helped more than I’ll ever be able to thank him to find ways of explaining Catalonia to people from other countries. Being English born and, as he describes himself in the book, an adopted Catalan (I’d say he’s just as Catalan as you can be) has given him a unique point of view, which combined with curiosity to learn about the country where he lives and a strong sense of justice have produced this book as a result.

Matthew has lived in Catalonia for 24 years and is a writer in both Catalan and English languages. He loves Catalonia and probably this book could be titled “Homage to Catalonia”, if it wasn’t that that title has already been used by another English writer. However, I agree to his criticism. Quoting from one of the articles in the book: (referring to Catalonia) “Personally, if I find myself in a room full of people who I know don’t like me, I walk out. The Catalans, for reasons that I am unable to fathom, are dithering by the door, wondering what they can still do to get in everyone’s good graces. Pathetic, or what?”.

Matthew honestly believes that Catalonia will become a State in Europe within this decade. I personally hope his prediction materialises, if only for the reason that I have other hobbies that would love some extra dedication from me. If a few more Catalans had as much sense of dignity as he does, no doubt we would already be.

The book is a collection of articles written in the last few years. Matthew just doesn’t talk about Catalonia, he talks about life, culture, traveling, injustice and publishing, to name a few. And he doesn’t take himself very seriously. Everything is said with an clear style and an intelligent sense of humour.

I recommend this book if you live or are planning to come to Catalonia for a while or as a tourist, if you want to understand this little corner of the earth a little better or, more generally, if you just want a good read. I am a very impatient reader, if I don’t like a book very much I’ll just leave it and I read this one in 3 days. Oh, and the electronic epub version of the book comes with cool videos.

If you want a sample of Matthew’s work I recommend you read “Life on The Receiving End” and watch this video where he explains Catalonia to a group of exchange students.

You can get the book here kindle version. Here and here in ePub version with video and without video (here and here). The book is also available in Catalan.

The presentation of the book takes place this evening in Barcelona, here’s a link to the event.

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