Collective residencies / HUMANITIES / Olot


From Saturday, 10 September 2016 to Sunday, 25 September 2016

Journalist and writer


Anna Ballbona (Montmeló, 1980) is a journalist and writer. Her debut novel Joyce i les gallines has been the finalist for the Premi Llibres Anagrama and has attracted the attention of critics and readers. Recently, Anagrama has also published its translation into Spanish. In 2014 she was selected to stay at the residence of writers Ledig House, New York, to work precisely on this novel. Previously she had published two books of poems: Conill de gàbia (published by LaBreu Edicions, 2012) and La mare que et renyava era un robot (published by Galerada and winner of the Amadeu Oller’s Prize for young and unpublished poets, 2008). She works as an editor for the Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui while collaborates with other media outlets such as El Temps magazine (where she runs a series of interviews with writers) and Vallesos magazine. She is also a regular guest in the TV talk show Els Matins de TV3. Ballbona has also undertaken a web project to recover the figure of legendary journalist Eugeni Xammar:



The project consists of a series of eleven literary articles for a culture and history magazine. The common thread of these pieces -a mixture of tales, stories, thoughts and memories- is that they are based on news of the absurd.

Each begins with a note from an odd but true story: sheep raped in a small town, the announcement of the end of the world published in a gossip magazine, the death by chocking of Japanese people on New Year’s day after eating a traditional sweet… Always close to the absurdity and facing the strangeness of the world, each piece will become a bait to explore a lot of topics and their particular social customs whether they are weird, funny or bizarre.

A great curiosity

Perhaps someone may ask what a residency for creators, scholars and scientists is—or to put it in a nutshell, what the Faber Residency of Olot is. It’s been exactly two years now since I’ve been to Ledig House—a residence for writers and artists in the state of New York. Many people asked me what I was going to do there, if anyone would check to see if I was working, if there were any activities or schedules to follow…

It’s possible that I wasn’t exactly sure what I would find there at that time. Now, here in Olot, with that experience under my belt, I know have a clearer idea of all the benefits that living in a residence has to offer. We’ve only been here a week and half, and the benefits are huge indeed. The chance to be here, obviously. Each day is a discovery, a surprise, an enrichment. All of this may seem like New Age mumbo jumbo, but in truth, it’s not like that at all.

The residence—with accommodation and study at the Hotel Riu Fluvià and a common area to prepare lunch and spend free time—has everything you need to concentrate on your work. To completely immerse yourself in a project: Erga is working on a novel about Mrs Gulliver; Satu is translating The Violin of Auschwitz into Finnish; Noufel is toiling over a play aimed directly at extremists; Jorge is hard at work on his new novel about assassinations in El Salvador in the 1930s; Philip, in a new book on multiple meanings around the sea; everyone has given me ideas for my new fiction novel. The variety of profiles and works of each of the first residents of the Faber Residency—with the differences in sense of humour and assortment of quips—, has led to a mysterious constellation of understanding, sharing, mutual curiosity, growth, and complementing each other. This has to be the closest thing to the definition of a residence for creators—bringing together different worlds while spending one, two, or four weeks in Olot, definitely leaving their mark, which will live on. It is nothing like nutters locked up writing or just completely self-absorbed. It is a give-and-take interaction, where the landscape and the environment play a key role: the line of mountains of Olot and its assortment of clouds—their painter couldn’t have chosen a better place for them─are ever-present and seep into the subconscious of the creators. Philip is mad about the natural springs which invite you to just dive right in. Satu likes to take long walks. Jorge was deeply impressed by the magnificence of Avinguda Malagrida and its environs. Erga is delighted with a masseuse in Olot who takes away all your back pains. Noufel has already discovered a handful of Catalan sayings. These writers and translator who come from such different worlds are keenly interested in everything about this place where they are right now: the food, the city, the festivities in honour of Sant Ferriol, the Saints Museum (where we’re going tomorrow) or whatever catches their fancy.

These days, we have witnessed—with shared enthusiasm and appreciation—the amazing welcome and last-minute preparations to get the residence ready. These involved a boggling amount of work, from furniture awaiting finishing to fitting out the common area, including umbrellas just in case Septembers turns out more rainy than it should be. Everyone feels right at home and enjoys working. Everyone will bring home clear and intense memories of the rich heritage, Santa Pau, the Bas Valley, Besalú… Now it seems as clear as day why this first residence in Catalonia for creators of all kinds had to be in Olot. It seems so evident that it is a two-way contribution to the internationalisation of Catalan culture. It seems so evident that Catalonia has to see it for what it is—a project that will enable both residents and Catalans alike to broaden their horizons! Everything is just beginning, but as the project gains momentum, it will become a well-oiled machine. And Olot, Girona, Barcelona and many other cities will have the chance to listen, feel, receive, and fall in love with the most influential writers, artists, thinkers and scientists from afar. To have immense curiosity about what is happening in Olot. These are my impressions—discussed and shared—from these days. This is, in my opinion, the spirit of the Faber Residency.

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