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Rest in peace, Carlos Ruiz Zafón...

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the news that prolific novelist, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, has passed away from colon cancer at age 55 in Los Angeles. We shared a name, hometown, love of history, and current city of Los Angeles, his genius will be deeply missed. Here are some much deserved praises of Carlos Ruiz Zafón:

The most-read Spanish author since Cervantes, his international best seller, La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), released in 2001, has sold more than fifteen million copies, and is considered the most widespread Spanish novel after Don Quixote.

Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, tweeted: “We have lost one of the world’s most read and most admired Spanish writers. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a key novelist of our epoch, made a significant contribution to modern literature.”

Calling him “one of the best contemporary novelists”, his publisher, Planeta, quoted from his most famous book, The Shadow of the Wind, a literary thriller about a library of obscure titles: “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.”

In an essay reflecting on his career, Ruiz Zafón wrote that he felt he had “no other choice” but to be a writer: “Sometimes people ask me what piece of advice I would give to an aspiring author. I’d tell them that you should only become a writer if the possibility of not becoming one would kill you. Otherwise, you’d be better off doing something else. I became a writer, a teller of tales, because otherwise I would have died, or worse.”

You can read more here:
(In Spanish) - https://www.lavanguardia.com/cultura/20200619/481773551925/muere-carlos-ruiz-zafon-la-sombra-del-viento-escritor-libros.html
(In English) - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-people-zafon/carlos-ruiz-zafon-author-of-the-shadow-of-the-wind-dies-aged-55-idUSKBN23Q23W

Posted by
620 posts

Thank you for posting this thoughtful tribute.

I know his soul lives on in my copy of The Shadow of the Wind.

May he Rest In Peace.

Posted by
602 posts

from a recent NY Times travel article:

In Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Barcelona, the well-trodden capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, there is still much to discover beneath the surface. “Treasures beneath the noise” are how the best-selling novelist, whose books present a vivid portrait of his native Barcelona, describes frequent haunts in his hometown.
The 54-year-old author behind the series, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (the most recent, The Labyrinth of Spirits, was published in 2018), divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles, where he is now based. His favorite places may sound familiar, but they take on an entirely different meaning when viewed through his fantastical lens. Here, five of Mr. Ruiz Zafón’s recommendations.

Five Places to Visit in Barcelona

Posted by
942 posts

I was saddened to hear the news. I loved reading his Shadows of the Wind so much that I even read them again in Spanish. Was lucky enough to attend the DC Book Festival a few years back and hear him speak. Stood in line for an hour just to get my book signed and was the last person to be allowed up to see him. He was nice enough to stay a little extra to sign it and listen to me nervously tell him how much I loved his books.

BTW I've lost relatives to colon cancer and it's a terrible disease. RIP to an author who transported many readers to a place and time in Barcelona that never quite existed.

Posted by
1092 posts

Up there with the greatest of novelists. His novels are all beautifully written, witty, full of warmth and suspense. A man who really knew about love.

My wife just finished The Labyrinth of The Spirits, which I've yet to read. The Shadow of The Wind is in my top three. Sad news indeed.

Posted by
1996 posts

Wonderful thoughts and stories, thank you all. @Going I would be very much interested in what the 5 spots in Barcelona Carlos Ruiz Zafón mentions as his favourites. I've been reading up on his life and amzingly we share many similarities, we even come from the same neighbourhood in Barcelona, Sagrada Família (takes the same name as the church) in the Eixample.

Posted by
942 posts

Carlos-I have to admit I half-thought you might have been his alter ego, since you both have the same first name and live in the same places.

Oh well.

Posted by
1996 posts

Hi Heather, interestingly enough, I have been pm'd by multiple fellow RS forum members asking if I am indeed secretly Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I can understand the notion, alas if only I had a 1/10th of his literary talent ;-)

Posted by
602 posts

@Going I would be very much interested in what the 5 spots in Barcelona Carlos Ruiz Zafón mentions as his favourites.

Here's his favorites:
1. Carrer dels Banys Nous “You cross many centuries of the city, so many layers of its history.”
2. La Sagrada Familia “When I was a kid, it was a ruin! I knew it inside out. I would climb the towers and get into the tunnels, and down into workshops where they kept the religious statues.”
3. Cementiri de Montjuïc “There’s something about the combination of excess and death that I find fascinating,” Mr. Ruiz Zafón said. “You’ll see these extravagant, morbid buildings with vengeful angels from Hell! It’s like the real world disappears.”
4. Tibidabo “In Latin, tibidabo means ‘I’ll give you,’ which are the words the Devil uses to tempt Jesus. I always thought it was very appropriate — Barcelona has this very dark soul. It makes sense that the devil would get up on this mountain trying to tempt us with all of these worldly pleasures.”
5. Mercado De La Boqueria “It gives you a glimpse of what the city used to be,”

I think the NY Times gives you a few free articles per month. Link is above.

Posted by
1996 posts

Thank you Going234, I'm also particularly fond of el Tibidabo :)

Though my list would go more like this, for all the same reasons he mentions, the intrigue, the mystery, and the secrets behind every corner:

  1. Plaza del Pi
  2. Parque del Laberinto de Horta
  3. Vila de Gràcia
  4. Tibidabo
  5. Hospital de Sant Pau
Posted by
2448 posts

Carlos, Thank you for your heartfelt message. We are devastated. We read "The Shadow of the Wind" and "The Angel's Game" prior to traveling to Barcelona in 2016. I recall they were recommended by our local bookstore. Since then we have loaned the books to friends. "Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his hands down its pages, it's spirit grows and strengthens." Carlos Ruiz Zafón made Barcelona's history come alive. We visited most of his favorite sights.

@Carlos OP Thank you for all your well written contributions about your beloved country!

Posted by
1996 posts

Thank you Janis, for your heartfelt message, I only hope to inspire others with my passion for my hometown and country :)

Posted by
375 posts

I'm reading this now, in the original Spanish -- I've decided that my next trip to Europe, which at the earliest will be in 2021, will be to Spain, so I am taking this opportunity to really improve my Spanish!

It's very compelling, though I must say that Zafón employs a very varied vocabulary so it has been a bit of slow going for me. Fortunately I'm reading it on Kindle, which makes it much easier to look up unknown words!

Posted by
2448 posts

Hi Carlos, subsequent to my previous message I ordered "The Prisoner of Heaven" for my husband. He is looking forward to reading it soon. Sounds like another Zafón winner!

Posted by
1996 posts

Hi Janis, I'm so happy to see that Mr. Ruiz Zafón has such an international following, even though he originally writes in Castellano, his stories speak to the world :)

Andrew, a good choice of Spain, if I may say so myself lol! Ruiz Zafón's stories almost function as guide books in and of themselves!