Albert Forns – 21st Century Literature

We explore the work of a young Catalan ‘New Voice of Europe’ who skillfully mixes genres and styles, blurring boundaries between reality and fiction.

Posted by Luka Ostojic on 14 July 2016 Literary Europe Live, Literature Across Frontiers

 

Albert Forns (Granollers, 1982) is an extraordinary Catalan writer.

He is a real tour de force in fields of journalism and Internet culture. When he was younger, he started numerous cultural initiatives on the Internet, such as the online magazine of literary criticism Llibrofags (which won UPF Prize and was nominated for the Lletra award from the UOC) and Projecte Embut (which won Netreporter Prize awarded by the Barcelona Council), a mixed bag of artistic and literary creation and essays. These days he regularly writes on theatre, literature and visual arts for his blog as well as for Time Out magazine and the digital magazine Núvol.com. He also works for the newspaper ARA and the cultural centre CCCB.

But the reason why he is one of ten New Voices of Europe is his literature. He has published three very well-received books: the collection of poetry Ultracolors (LaBreu Edicions, 2013), the novel Albert Serra (the novel, not the filmmaker) (Empúries, 2013), winner of the Documenta Prize; and the novel Jambalaia (Anagrama, 2016), winner of the Anagrama Prize.

In all Albert’s works we can see a skilful hybridisation of genres, styles and narrative strategies. Forns creates different layers of meaning and combines traditional concepts of litetature with the novelties of our time.

In his first book, a poetry collection Ultracolors, Forns studies contemporary artists from the 1970s (Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Nan Goldin, Miranda July) while writing about mundane life and the decay of a relationship. Each poem takes the name of an artist and, directly or indirectly, is a dialogue with their work.

Forns continues to explore the link between contemporary art and everyday life in his next book Albert Serra (the novel, not the filmmaker) in which the protagonist Albert Forns decides to become Albert Serra, the famous filmmaker. The novel blurs boundaries between reality and fiction, while also mixing a narrative form with factual documents such as journalistic chronicles and Serra’s diaries. In words of El Mundo‘s reviewer, this novel presents ‘one of the most original and thought-provoking voices of new Catalan prose.’

His latest novel Jambalaia is a travel book about a small fishing village recycled into a paradise for hipsters and surfers from New York. Put simply, Jambalaia is a diary written by the protagonist, a young writer living with a group of artists on an isolated farm. But this book also contains a dictionary of synonyms, a treatise on masturbation, an essay on gentrification, neuromarketing, obesity and the effects of urban dispersion on the health of the American population, a collection of postcards, an essay on pornography in the Internet age, a gallery of portraits of all kinds of entrepreneurs, and also a love story. Or various love stories.

Written with a dose of wit and brightness, Jambalaia proves that Albert Forns is one of the most outstanding authors of his generation. We can hardly wait for his works to be translated from Catalan and become available to a wider audience.

New Voices from Europe

Albert Forns has been selected as one of the New Voices from Europe, ten of the most interesting writers working in Europe today. The New Voices from Europe selection is part of the Literary Europe Live project which is co-ordinated by Literature Across Frontiers and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, with support from Arts Council Wales.