The writer Lara Moreno came to Montserrat Roig by chance. Her partner found a copy of the seventies of cherry time, translated into Spanish, in a trace of Carabanchel. “I read him two summers ago, and he fascinated me. I ended up saying: who is this great writer, where was she, how come I don’t know her, nor most of my generation, and how come she’s out of print?” Since then, he has dedicated himself to looking for all his books in old editions through Wallapop and his admiration has only grown for a woman he describes as “deeply cultured, alert, committed to the social and to making a portrait of her country and of the history of Europe”.
The figure of Roig, who died prematurely in 1991 at only 45 years of age, has continued to be present in Catalonia, with more or less constant publications in Edicions 62 and with initiatives such as the Montserrat Roig scholarships, for authors who have at least one published book and need the time and space to continue writing, and the tributes that were held in 2021 and 2022, when he would have turned 75. But outside of Catalonia, her work continued to be practically unfindable and her profile was blurred, little at hand for people, like Moreno herself, who could have had her as a fundamental reference.
The restoration of his legacy started a couple of years ago, more focused on Roig’s facet as a journalist and thinker
The restoration of his legacy started a couple of years ago, more focused on Roig’s facet as a journalist and thinker -Debate collected his articles in the volume Algo mejores and the Plankton Press label will shortly release Tell me you love me even if it’s a lie, with prologue by Noelia Ramírez–, and now it is the turn of her novels.
The Consonni stamp begins with Ramona, bye, with a new translation by Gemma Deza Guil, the publication of what Josep Maria Castellet, Roig’s editor while he was alive, dubbed “the Eixample trilogy”, now renamed the “Barcelona trilogy” for editorial marketing reasons. will continue with cherry time and the melodious voiceand will end in 2026 with the violet hourthe last novel that Roig wrote and the most experimental.
Packaging is important. The first novel has a very current cover with a photograph by Alba Yruela and a prologue by Luna Miguel, and the idea is that the other titles also have prefaces by young authors. “We are interested in reaching all reading publics, but especially a young reading public, not staying only in the generation that knew Montserrat Roig in life,” says one of the label’s partners and editors, María Mur, who believes that publishing it has been almost an “obligation”. She also knew her more as a feminist reference than as an author of novels and she was surprised when she read them, when she came across such deep and current texts.
We are interested in reaching all reading publics, but above all a young reading public, not staying only in the generation that knew Montserrat Roig while she was alive”
Parallel to the new editions in Spanish, translations into English are also being prepared by Julia Sanches (the translator of Eva Baltasar and Andrea Abreu) at Daunt Books, the imprint that publishes, for example, Natalia Ginzburg, and in German, at Kuntsman Veralg. “I hope it’s just the beginning, and that they also rediscover her in Brazil, France, Portugal, where she already published while she was alive and achieved some success,” explains Marina Penalva, the literary agent who has moved to reposition Montserrat Roig in the its rightful place, from Casanova & Lynch, the firm that has always managed the author’s rights.
“When I arrived at the agency, five years ago, I saw that only Els catalans als camps nazis and non-fiction were still being sold. I am very excited to promote the novels, which are very good. Abroad it is still very unknown and in the rest of Spain until recently too. I remember talking to editors from Madrid and they did not locate it, we had to explain it from scratch, ”she says. When he sells her to foreign publishers at fairs, she compares her to authors like Natalia Ginzburg but also to Vivian Gornick and Joan Didion. “Because of the records in which they moved and how they were generational chroniclers, who combined journalism and fiction.”
The idea of the Barcelona Trilogy can also help to twin it with another peripheral (non-Anglo-Saxon) author reintroduced into the Anglo canon in recent years, Tove Ditlevsen, author of the Copenhagen Trilogy. And there is, of course, her connection with Mercè Rodoreda, the other great storyteller from Barcelona who in her lifetime already recognized Roig as her outstanding student.
It has this rebellious point against the ‘status quo’ and deals with completely current issues”
Ramona, bye, the novel now being published in Spanish, was also Roig’s first novel. He published it in 1972, when she was only 26 years old. Two years earlier, in 1970, he had won the Víctor Català prize with a collection of short stories, Molta steals and few knew… and so net that they blow it up and some characters that appear in those stories are seen again in Ramona, the book in which the two sagas crystallize, the Ventura-Claret and the Miralpeix, which are the backbone of Roig’s entire narrative, and in three women from three successive generations called Mundeta that have a particular relationship of co-dependency with the city of Barcelona.
Although one of the Ramonas, the eldest of all, still lives in Gràcia when the neighborhood was still a town (“nothing happens in Gràcia. Day after day, always the same”, the character laments in 1899), Roig’s novels are inseparable from the grid of the Eixample, the neighborhood where he was born and where he kept a flat for most of his life, in Bailen, below Gran Via.
The Eixample, that neighborhood that was already born an amputee, built according to the laws of the real estate market and not following the regenerationist ideals of its ideologue, Ildefons Cerdà, serves Roig to “portray a world that is half erased after the Civil War”, says Roig’s biographer, Betsabé García (author of Con otros ojos, in Roca Editorial). “At that time, the neighborhood is the framework of that middle class that has been impoverished and people from both sides move there. It is a universe that she already shows as something defeated, trying to survive”.
On the other hand, the typical houses of the neighborhood, with those patios that are crucial to understand Roig’s books, and those buildings that always had a certain social transversality (the gentlemen in the Principal, the artisan class with certain aspirations, from the second up ) provides an ideal space to place those anxious women and their wandering husbands. In temps of cirereslocated in the seventies, it is already clear that whoever has succeeded has climbed Sant Gervasi.
The biographer, who is also very involved in this collective effort to relocate Roig, believes that it is a good time to make her known outside of Catalonia. “He has this rebel point against him. status quo and deals with completely current topics. His female characters receive and some rebel against that violence of the heteropatriarchy. It is up to us to present her as a stature intellectual and an exceptional novelist”. From the Eixample to the world.