Spanish publisher subverts court gag by using Don Quixote to recreate banned book

Finding Fariña website allows access to exposé of drug trafficking in Galicia while author, Nacho Carretero, and publisher face legal action

Don Quixote famously tilted at windmills; now the Booksellers Guild of Madrid is using Cervantes’s 400-year-old novel to take a tilt at the Spanish court system, highlighting 80,000 words in Don Quixote to make the text of a recently banned book about drug smuggling available to readers online.

Nacho Carretero’s Fariña, an expose of drug trafficking in Galicia, was published in 2015, but publication and sales were halted last month after the former mayor of O Grove in Galicia, Jose Alfredo Bea Gondar, brought legal action against Carretero and his publisher, Libros del KO. Bea Gondar is suing over details in the book about his alleged involvement in drug shipping.

Describing the suspension of the book’s sale as a “disproportionate and anachronistic measure … to prevent people from reading the story”, the Booksellers Guild of Madrid has launched the website Finding Fariña, which uses a digital tool to trawl through the text of Don Quixote to find and highlight the 80,000 words that make up Fariña, allowing users to read the book despite the ban.

As Fariña contains words that did not exist in the early 17th century when Cervantes wrote his novel, the tool assembles these syllable by syllable from combinations of words in Don Quixote.

Carretero’s book alleges that Bea Gondar was involved in the shipping and unloading of cocaine and a negotiation between Colombia’s Cali cartel and local smugglers. Bea Gondar was found guilty by Madrid’s national court but the ruling was later overturned by the supreme court because one witness was disqualified – all of which is laid out in Carretero’s book.

The guild said that its initiative was “our way of defending the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and of reminding people of something that is very important: there are some books that can never be silenced … Because what they will never be able to censure are your rights as a reader. Nor words. And least of all, Don Quixote.”


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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