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Irene Vallejo: “We had underestimated the love of books”

Madrid, Sep 18 (EFE) .- With more than 400,000 copies sold, 41 editions and translated into 32 languages, “Infinito en un Junco” has emerged as a literary phenomenon, a “nonsense” in the form of a 400-page essay that It was born as “the craziest of all projects”, and that for its author, Irene Vallejo, shows that “we had underestimated the love of books”.

As soon as he arrived at the Madrid Book Fair, where for the first time he went to sign copies, Vallejo (Zaragoza, 1979) reviews in an interview with EFE how the work was conceived, how it is experiencing the success that nobody knew how to predict and what it is the “tribe of the book” that has emerged around “Infinity in a reed”.

Question.- How do you manage a success of these characteristics?

Answer.- I am still in disbelief. An essay of more than four hundred pages on the classical world and the humanities, which everyone told us was not interesting, seemed the craziest of all projects (…). We did not have so many people who, after all, do value books and literature, history and even philosophy, thought, all those things that tell us that they are exhausted and, nevertheless, they demonstrate a perennial, infinite vitality.

Q.- Faced with a book that is not easy to read, since despite its good pace, it requires concentration, how do you explain that it has become that global phenomenon and has reached so many people? Are we perhaps, especially here in the West, eager for references to our history and our culture, in which we can anchor ourselves at times like these?

A.- I think so, or the book has made me trust that it is. Society condemns or corners the humanities and people feel the need to know their past, to relate to previous generations, to see how we have come to be who we are. Perhaps around “Infinity in a reed” a community has emerged, a tribe of the book, which in recent years has been listening to all these apocalyptic prophecies and that somehow they are revealed with the enthusiasm and passion that is demonstrated Also at this fair when we see that people have to wait an hour or more and do so in order to walk among the books, touch them, caress them or have a few minutes of conversation with their authors.

Perhaps we had underestimated everything, all this enthusiasm, this love for books (…) that allows literature, teaching and the most valuable ideas to be saved and passed from generation to generation.

Q.- Were the books in those weeks of confinement the key to get out of the prison in which the pandemic locked us, sunk in over-information and fear?

R.- Well, not the only one, but it was one of the keys. Actually the books there showed that, as Umberto Eco said, they are almost perfect objects.

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