Arrived in Paris yesterday afternoon for Val-de-Marne Poetry Festival (details of the week-long program here for those who may be in the region). Then mail in from friend Maas, giving the following sad news:
34 Years of Catalan Literature in Paris comes to an endJordi Font Comas d’Argemir / CNA
Paris (ACN).- The bookshop ‘Pam de Nas’, in the heart of Paris, will close its doors at the end of June. The store is the only one to sell books in the Catalan and Occitan language in the French capital. The shop opened in 1977, after French Jean-François Coche fell in love with Catalan while listening to the famous song ‘Al Vent’ by Raimon. He decided to create a space in Paris dedicated to that language and that culture he had just discovered. Thirty-four years later, he has to close because his landlord aims to triple the rent for the shop. He has unsuccessfully tried to fight against that decision in court. For a small-business such as his, this means nothing else than the end.
“It is not only the end job, but the end of a whole life dedicated to Occitan and Catalan books”, Jean-François Coche said in an interview with the CNA. His bookshop is a must-see for all Catalans living in Paris, and it also attracts attention from people interested in Catalan and Occitan literatures. The shop is only 30 square metres, and can be found in the Parisian Latin district.
The neighborhood that saw the rise and fall of the May ‘68 revolution has changed over the last number of decades. The rising rent prices have forced many small bookshops to close, and what once was a centre for literature, art and revolution has became something different. Two Spanish bookshops had to close in the last few years, and now it is the turn of the Catalan shop, a sad Coche explained.
He regrets he hasn’t received any kind of institutional help to keep his shop afloat, despite being the only one promoting Catalan literature in Paris. “It seems nobody really cared that we were closing”, he said. The bookseller contacted the Catalan Government, the Institut Ramon Llull and the Center for Catalan Studies at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. Coche, who once received the Creu de Sant Jordi, the highest civil distinction awarded in Catalonia, has run his shop for more than thirty years without any French or Catalan subsidy.
Back in 1977, Coche was only selling Catalan and Occitan literature. He recently decided to introduce some old books too. In this bookshop, one could find amazing books such as an 18th century French translation of ‘Tirant lo Blanc’, one of the most famous Catalan classics. Now, all these books should be either sold or thrown away, confessed Coche, while sadly looking to the bookshop shelves.