“Forever and always, in bed and in the bath” or “To my friend in the best of the planets” were a couple of the sentences with which Ben Brooks, the young British writer born in 1992 with 5 novels on his back, delighted his fans last week in Barcelona.
It was Sant Jordi – Saint George- a really special day for the city and its inhabitants. Every 23rd of April, Catalonia celebrates its own lovers’ day, when men and women exchange roses and books to celebrate their love or friendship.
Downtown was crowded as never before this year, bookstores settled on the streets while young people tried to make some extra money selling any kind of roses you could imagine (from real ones to those made of sweets, paper or fabric). In this scenario, right in the middle of Rambla Catalunya, just in the heart of the city, one could see a young skinny guy, Ben Brooks, surrounded by some local writers, ready to sign his latest novel, Lolito, to anyone who stopped by the stand. Visitors would also get a present from the author: a bracelet shaped after an animal, the perfect excuse to share a few sentences with the writer.
In front of him, a bunch of people joked pretending an argument: “I’ll pay you 10 euros more for the book; Come on! give it to my daughter!” The Spanish version of Lolito was sold out in most of the stores and just one of the big chains of books, where employees were having a strike, had some of them for selling.
What is it that makes this book so special? It tells the story of Etgar, a 15 year-old boy who is trying to overcome the relationship with his girlfriend, Alice, who cheated on him, by getting into another affair; in this case, however, with a teacher in her 40s. With some explicit scenes, an always peculiar sense of humor and some sort of innocence behind every episode, Brooks goes into the mind and feelings of a teenage boy and gives a fresh point of view about love, sex, friendship and family.
What could have been a tragic, controversial novel, in hands of Brooks ends up becoming a humorous, sensitive, addictive story that will probably offer the reader conflicting emotions.
Brooks, who lived in Barcelona for some years, could not miss this Sant Jordi 2014, the maximum expression of the worldwide book day in Spain. With the Spanish version of Lolito sold out by 4p.m., the novel was one of the greatest successes of the day, especially amongst young people.