Journalist and writer Miquel Fañanàs, 68, finds it hard to keep track of the books he has published. The last, ‘Bonastruc, el jueu’, recently published by the publishing house Columna, is the 21st and completes a trilogy of historical novel, together with ‘The Stone Witch’ and ‘The Great Inquisitor’, published in 2012 and 2015 respectively .
-“Did you have a trilogy in your mind?” Honestly no. It all starts with the success of ‘The Stone Witch’, with which I won the novel award Néstor Luján. Then I was asked for another novel and I thought about developing one of the referenced characters, the Inquisitor Nicholas Emeric. And when the publishers told me I could do a third book, to compensate for a figure as evil as the inquisitor, I chose the good Bonastruc.
– “The three have in common the beliefs, the religions, the heresy” … Yes, and all three are related to the city of Girona. The stone witch, for example, refers to a gargoyle with a female form that is in the cathedral of Girona, something quite strange and unique in the world. For his part, Nicolau Emeric, the Catholic theologian and inquisitor general of Corona d’Aragó, protagonist of ‘The Great Inquisitor’, was born and studied in Girona, although he also made his own in Barcelona. Bonastruc Ça Porta, which comes out in some way in the two previous novels, is the most universal of Girona’s Jews.
-“Why Bonastruc?” Bonastruc, born Moixé Ben Nahman and known as Nahmànides, was a very important character in the thirteenth century, and I think it is worth reclaiming his figure. He was a great Kabbalist, interpreted sacred texts, and left numerous sermons and poems. His legacy, his philosophical thought, is very important, comparable to that of figures like Ramon Llull, whom we know much better.
-“They meet each other in your book.” It is not documented that they were known, but they coincided in time and everything points that could have been seen.
-As the previous two, ‘Bonastruc the Jueu’ is a novelada biography. Yes, it is not a history book. I use historical elements and real figures to create a novel. It has action, love, suspense, hatred, revenge … And a surprising ending.
-This type of novels, with a historical background, have had a lot of pull for a few years. People have long seemed interested in history, or the one that touches us more closely, with events such as the Spanish Civil War, or More distant, like the medieval period. It’s funny, but maybe it’s to counteract so much technology …
– I understand that behind a novel like ‘Bonastruc, the jueu’ there is a great work of previous investigation. Yes, I documented myself in the library of the Center Bonastruc Ça Porta de Girona and with the invaluable help of its director. There I found, among other things, a booklet published in 1985 very interesting about the figure of Bonastruc and I was able to acquire Jewish terminology.
-“How long has it taken you to write this novel?” A whole year. It’s the second book I write as a retiree, the second I write full-time. Well, actually, in the evenings. Four hours each day.
-“And you’re preparing the next one, am I right?” Well, I have not started, but I plan to recover my first book, ‘Susqueda’, published in 1983. It will be the same story but with more characters, with more action. This was a novel, and my idea is to update and expand it.
-Why? This book deals with the collapse of the dam Susqueda, a great infrastructure launched by Franco in 1968, and the panic that caused the water to come down among the residents. The new version will come out next year coinciding with its 50th anniversary.
– What can advance us? Somehow I would like to include in this novel an anecdote that happened during the promotion of the book, in 1983. We happened to read some fragments in a transmitter of Girona, a little theatrical, with sound effects, and the people believed it. As in ‘War of the Worlds’ by Orson Welles. Police came to the studio to stop the broadcast because more than 3,000 people had mobilized, totally terrified.