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Nine well-known authors write their proposals for the future in the book " Imagining a country. Spain in 2050"

Lorenzo Silva, Elizabeth Duval and Inés Martín Rodrigo spoke at the presentation at the Cervantes Institute
Instituto Cervantes

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes

To reflect on what we want to be like in thirty years' time and to plan how to achieve it. This is the aim of the book " Imagining a country. Spain in 2050", which brings together nine essays by nine authors on our future, and which was presented this Wednesday by Espasa, the Cervantes Institute and the Government's National Office of Foresight and Strategy. 

The presentation, held at the headquarters of the Cervantes Institute, brought together in a colloquium three of the writers whose articles are contained in the book: Lorenzo Silva, Elizabeth Duval and Inés Martín Rodrigo. The other six authors, several of whom sent video messages, are: Jesús Carrasco, Espido Freire, Sergio del Molino, Rosa Montero, José Ovejero and Manuel Vilas.

The 200-page volume also contains a presentation by the Spanish-Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, entitled "Futures", and a prologue by Antonio Muñoz Molina, "The unwritten tomorrow". 

The Director of the Cervantes Institute opened the event by highlighting the rich diversity of points of view of the nine authors, as well as the difference in age between them, which contributes valuable nuances to the necessary task of thinking about the present and the future in order to make the right decisions. 

For the poet Luis García Montero, "progress is not a straight line, there are different ways of progressing, and thinking about them helps us to know what we can commit ourselves to". And he highlighted the participation of writers, since "literature is the great attempt to unite history with life": historical ideas, he said, determine the daily life of each person. 

This collective reflection is especially important in an era "in which everything is commodified, and also time, which, in a hurry, is a disposable item". He added that "it is very difficult to know the present without knowing the past", and that "this present is an invitation to commit oneself to imagining the future". 

García Montero announced that the Cervantes Institute would be scheduling various activities in its network of centres, especially those in Europe, to debate the problems raised by this volume on issues such as freedom, democracy, sexuality... "We will make the most of it in our programming around the book", he concluded. 

Also speaking at the presentation were David Cebrián, Director of Espasa, a publishing house that will be celebrating its 190th anniversary on the reference date of 2050, and Diego Rubio, Director of the National Office of Prospective and Strategy (Ministry of the Presidency). 

Rubio Rodríguez explained how, since its creation three years ago, this Office has worked with more than 250 institutions, as well as academics and researchers, to imagine the future, something that "is of no interest today" because speculating on what Spain should be like in the middle of the century "seems foolhardy". With the studies of the so-called "Spain 2050" Project, the nine writers mentioned above have joined the initiative and contributed their various proposals in fields such as education, work, the environment, production and equality

"More influential than we think" 

This was followed by a discussion between Lorenzo Silva, Elizabeth Duval and Inés Martín Rodrigo, focusing on the role that writers can play. 

For Lorenzo Silva, who has been publishing novels for 40 years, authors "can be more influential than we think", since fiction acts as "an observation of reality" and stories can be "a transcription of the fate" of real people. 

The author of "La llama de Forcea" believes that "we are not making a commitment to culture commensurate with our potential: there is a lack of appreciation for culture, which is a source of happiness even in the worst circumstances", he said, as evidenced by the enormous interest in literary reading that he has detected among the prison population.   

Elizabeth Duval believes that "it is difficult to conceive the future, and also the present, because of the many stimuli we receive": we do not have a clear picture of what is happening now, which makes it even more difficult to think about what the future will be like. "Futures will be made according to political decisions and according to the will of the people". As for writers, she stressed their "great responsibility" because the books they write "alter reality" and can influence the decisions taken by many other people. 

The debate was moderated by the writer and journalist Inés Martín Rodrigo, who appealed to the responsibilities and duties of all citizens in the search for a better society, since "rights are not guaranteed, we must continue to fight for social rights and for a future of equality".

Sent by José Antonio Sierra, Hispanismo advisor.