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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Award-winning Catalan author to visit Carleton

<rleton Spanish Department, in conjunction with the Distinguished Woman’s Fund, invites all Carleton students and faculty to a talk by critically acclaimed Catalan writer Najat El Hachmi this Friday, Oct. 30 at 5:00 p.m. in the Gould Library Athenaeum.

Najat El Hachmi is an award-winning Moroccan-born Catalan writer who emigrated from Fez to Catalonia, Spain, when she was eight years old. El Hachmi studied Arabic literature at the University of Barcelona and currently resides in Granollers, Spain. She began writing for fun at the age of twelve and has not stopped since. Her writing focuses chiefly on the challenges of living with two competing identities—as a Catalan citizen, and as a Moroccan—that, she believes, are not mutually exclusive.

Her first book, Jo també sóc catalana (I, Too, Am Catalan, 2004), was strictly autobiographical, exploring issues of identity and the search for belonging in a new country.

In 2008 she won the most prestigious award in Catalan writing, the Ramon Llull prize, for her novel L’últim Patriarca (The Last Patriarch).

The Last Patriarch is the story of a Moroccan man who immigrates with his family to Catalonia, and the problems that arise when his conventional patriarchic values are challenged by a daughter attempting to assimilate into the new, modern culture in which she finds herself.

El Hachmi has described the driving force behind her work as the search for “an understanding of the border that allows for multiple realities, a way to live, to be, to think, the act, to feel, to love, to search for happiness while always straddling two worlds” (from Prologue, “I, Too, Am Catalan”).

Palmar Álvarez-Blanco of the Carleton Spanish department would like to stress the significance of this visit. It is rare that the Carleton community has the chance to meet such a distinguished author, and such an important figure in modern Spanish literature. El Hachmi, especially, represents a modern literary shift away from literature constrained by nationhood, to a broader, more internationally aware writing style. Anyone interested in better understanding contemporary issues of identity and nationhood, should not pass up this valuable opportunity.

All are also invited to a film screening of the 2005 documentary ¡Mezquita no! (No Mosque!) this Wednesday, Oct. 28 in Olin 141 at 6:00 p.m. The film recounts the controversy that arose in the city of Santa Coloma de Gramanet (near Barcelona) in 2004 when a growing Muslim community began to protest the lack of a proper place of worship. The community backlash resulted in disturbing instances of racism, religious persecution and near-abandonment by the local government. Following the 30-minute film, El Hachmi will lead a discussion and answer questions.

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