Almost everyone has a town to return to in the summers. Or he lives an inherited nostalgia, of something not lived in the first person, but that he knows and longs for through the memories of his grandparents or parents. "What is certain is that we are not all parents, but we are children," recalls Ana Solanes at the Central de Callao bookstore in Madrid. In his old place, a few meters from the current one, he discovered part of his own family history through one of the titles that was for sale on his shelves. He spent a year researching, interviewing and compiling five other stories that make up Familia de libro, from Podium Podcast —which is part of the Prisa group—.
This narrative podcast about stories of royal families can now be heard in its entirety [even without leaving this article, at the end of the text]. Some of them date back to the Civil War and another came to Solanes through a wasap message, after the invitation of a Christmas celebration. "Hello. We wait for you around six. By the way, Felipe is now called Andrea. It's making the transit. Until this afternoon. A hug." The trans girl's story of bravery convinced the journalist to tell other clan stories in audio, including the one that had to do with her own paternal family. I knew how the six chosen stories began, but not how they ended. "The interviewees told me many more things than I expected. Everyone understood that their stories could help others," he said at the end of May. "It's also a portrait of how Spanish society and families, and taboos, have changed in just 30 or 40 years," he says. "Family is a mine of stories. It is an intimate space and at the same time it is universal. It is our first source of love, but also of conflict."
The project came at a personal moment for its creator: "It was also a matter of age, and the coincidence of reading many books about families without realizing it. Actually, you don't have to look for them much. I don't know if I see them all the time or if there is a wave of very young writers dealing with familiar subjects. I think it has to do with the barriers that have fallen. Now people go to therapy, talk about their problems and then realize that the one next door is just like you, that we are not weirdos."
They are all experiences, experiences of kilometer 0, connected in one way or another with a friend or acquaintance of the author. "I didn't want to turn to the big true stories you read in newspapers or books. I wanted to show that we all have a story," he argues. Solanes' exploration through these six stories ends up highlighting an almost universal truth: that something as close and nuclear as family is often surrounded by taboos. In all of them there is a secret. That's the premise of the podcast, that in every family there is a story worth telling. "It's impossible not to identify with them. In some because something similar has happened to you and in others because it is inevitable to ask yourself what I would do in that case, "says Solanes, who points out that he has already received some offer to transfer the sound stories of Familia de libro to the audiovisual format.
The potential to engage people with them is more than demonstrated. The chapter And that nose? has as its protagonist Mavi, who suspects being adopted and seeks her biological connection. In his search, he found a mother. But when the SER program came to La Ventana to tell his testimony as a result of the podcast, the story took an even bigger turn. Mavi managed to complete the other piece of her personal puzzle: contacting her biological father's family. "We forgot to comment on the air that we were looking for him and it was not necessary. That same afternoon some of her cousins wrote to contact her and tell her that her father had died 20 years earlier. At least, he has family everywhere," Solanes recalls. "I don't think there are families that are completely happy, and those who are unhappy have a great capacity to rebuild themselves."
Next, the six chapters and their initial premises that are part of this narrative journalism project of Podium Podcast.
When, at age four, Andrea told her parents she was a girl, they weren't surprised. In reality, she had always been "one more" among the girls in the family. For years they did everything possible to prevent her from being trans, until they understood that they could not stop it and that they had to support her. What they didn't suspect is that their daughter's determination would teach them to live more honestly.
Shame on what?
Carolina has two sisters on her father's side who don't know she exists. They may never know. Or maybe they'll find out when it's too late to ask questions. Meanwhile, Carolina has had to learn to deal all her life with the feeling of being her father's secret—or shame.
Just after the Civil War, Teresa and José María were communicating for eight months with tiny notes that went in and out of prison, perfectly hidden in clothes or food. They never talked about it. That is why, when their children and granddaughter found them, forgotten in an envelope, they embarked on an exercise of memory and homage to those grandparents whose lives are also a portrait of post-war Spain and the end of the dictatorship.
And that nose?
Mavi's features didn't match those of her family. She always sensed that she was adopted, although she was denied it since childhood. Already turned 40, his nose finally fit as a piece of another life, that of Judith, his biological mother. This is the story of all that separated them and all that has brought them back together.
Carmen was clear that she wanted to be a mother on her own. And he did it not once, but three. In less than four years her family photo has been filled with people: her three children, a godmother, two godparents, the au pair... and his dog. They are "The Tribe."
The finding of a book leads the author to discover a supposed great-uncle. From his hand he undertakes an emotional journey through the territory of exile, memories and childhood.
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