Two weeks ago we were about to launch the NYC version of Barcelona’s Sant Jordi Book Fair. There would be lit crawls in Chelsea and DUMBO, and bookstands and flower stalls in Madison Square. And concerts and guest authors. All swept away by COVID-19.
So. We’re going online. We’ve reinvented the festival as 32 hours of Sant Jordi NYC (Online). Four days of literature in translation, 8 hours a day, from April 23 to 26.
On Sant Jordi’s Day, Catalans celebrate St. George, the dragon slayer, who killed the fearsome beast to save the king’s daughter. For centuries, on this day, Catalan gentlemen would give their beloved a rose.
In the 1920s the Catalan booksellers’ association added books into the mix and the Sant Jordi Book Festival was born. No longer gender-based, lovers, friends, and family now give one another books and roses. Valentine’s Day--for nerds.
Knights and dragons and books and roses! How could a virus take us down?
32 Hours of Sant Jordi in New York is not only a literary offering, but an artistic and technological innovation. The web is designed by an extraordinary team of video artists and animators, Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger who have created a cityscape based on Madison Square, with the iconic Flatiron Building—which is shaped like an open book—at its heart. An online portal through which people can enter and choose an area of activity following different narratives, the site will be innovative and interactive, incorporating live streaming of panel discussions, web-based AR experience, a virtual video mapping of the Flatiron with an original score composed by Nana Simopoulos, and the history of Sant Jordi as an immersive journey with augmented reality experiences that are accessed through a web browser rather than an app. Created in collaboration with interactive designer Aniol Saurina Masó, there will be thrilling visuals such as three-dimensional dragons that will chase user generated roses and books directly on the website.
In a time of confinement and sheltering in place we will open a virtual portal onto world literature: a free online festival where viewers can step from a Parisian café into an Icelandic hot pot or a Mediterranean souk. The artists have designed an experience including web-based Augmented Reality. The writers and translators will bring you the next wave in international literature, presenting long-established writers and people just starting out: Sophie Hughes will read from her award-winning new translation, Hurricane Season, by Mexican writer, Fernanda Melchor; renowned Lebanese-French writer Amin Maalouf will discuss his new novel, The Disoriented with critic Maya Jaggi and translator Frank Wynne;Rodaan Al-Galidi, an Iraqi author residing in the Netherlands will talk with his Dutch translator, Jonathan Reed, about his memoir of immigration, Two Blankets, Three Sheets. Bergur Ebbi, author, performer, and public intellectual from Iceland will read from and riff on Screenshot, his view of society and technology; Translator Tess Lewis will talk with Judith Keller of Switzerland, author of the new The Questionable Ones. And, when you are tired of books, you can stop off at our concert space and hear original music.
Sant Jordi is a party, but it is, above all, a booksellers’ festival. in Catalonia ten percent of a year’s revenue from book sales comes in on Sant Jordi’s Day.
True to the spirit of Sant Jordi, our Kickstarter seeks funding for two purposes: to support bookstores and publishers by bringing their books into your homes through our gorgeous virtual city, and to offer a stipend to the writers, translators, and musicians who will reach you through Sant Jordi NYC.
Your support will open this international literary portal, and your contribution will be tax-deductible. This will be a truly original online experience, with dragons of the world, animated illustrations, AR experiences, original music, and, above all, a surprising array of international literature.
These are precarious days, for artists, writers, translators, musicians, and the industries that support them. Help us bring Sant Jordi and the dragon together to connect world literature, the people who write and translate it, and the people who read it.