Carlos Ruiz Zafòn was one of the most prominent contemporary writers and by far, one of my all time favourites.
He died at the age of 55 on the 19th June 2020, leaving behind a precious legacy difficult to unfold and impossible to explain. Nevertheless, trying to describe it, is definitely worth a try.
In his essay ‘Why I Write’, Zafòn wrote that “it was because he simply did not have any choice.” He went on to tell us that, “It is what I have been doing since I was a kid.” Delving into the stories and the making up of tales, where he was able to bring life to characters, devise plots, which allows one to visualise scenes in every sense, from the words to sounds. All in exchange for a penny, a smile or a tear, and a little of your time or attention.
He is the author of bestsellers such as ‘The Shadow of the Wind’, the first book of ‘The Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ series, both of which left us a legacy made of marvellous adventures; thousands of pages that tell us stories, similar to our own and tales with characters that are as real as I am. These timeless pieces of literature have been shaped by us, the readers, those that got lost in that same story over and over again; contributing something new to it every time, something that was not there before, something that seemed to be lost and was finally found; That right there was of Zafòn’s real power, his narrative! Making us believe that something could become real through us, something that we added and discovered ourselves in the narrative, our own interpretation that was real and ours! Well, if we dared to do so. His books did not have the simple purpose of being read and understood, they are voluntarily questionable, wrong and contradictory. The aim of Zafòn was not to give us answers, but to give us the tools to search for them and decide whether to embrace them or not. He always gave us the choice, to believe and to interpret. He taught us that “Every book, every volume, you see here as a soul” and managed to convince us through his masterpieces. He showed us that, “Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens”.
He built bridges of real stories and real connections, such as: the one between the reader and his book, the one between reader and writer and lastly, the one between and amongst the readers. He created a community of people that shared a common experience and feeling, he gave us a place where we could gather and feel safe, a place we could call ours. He told us “The echo of words that may seem forgotten, will stay with us forever and build a palace in our memory, a palace to which sooner or later we will come back”. A palace that now constitutes the tangible legacy of one of the most beloved authors of all time and that we have the duty to protect for the readers to come.