The strategy to ensure Barcelona’s candidacy to host the 57th PEN Congress started with an initial proposal during the Congress of Hamburg (1986) that didn’t gain significant traction. It continued with a new proposal during the Congresses of Lugano and Puerto Rico, both celebrated in 1987, where it had to compete with the Colombian PEN’s candidacy for Cartagena de Indias, who wanted to make the most of the 1992 milestone that marked 500 years since the discovery of America. Finally, the Catalan candidacy was accepted in Seoul (1988) and confirmed in Toronto-Montreal (1989) and Madeira (1990). In the Congress of Vienna (1991), Catalan PEN presented the final programme for the Congress of 1992.
By hosting the 57th International Congress of the PEN Club, Barcelona served as the capital of the literary world for the third time. Between the 20th and the 26th April, 1992, the Congress brought together more than four hundred writers from all over the world. The week of Sant Jordi (Saint George) was chosen in order to introduce one of the most splendid holidays of our calendar, when Catalonia becomes a versatile symbol of knowledge, love and beauty, represented by books and roses. Amongst the most renowned writers that participated, there was the Canadian narrator and poet Margarett Atwood, the Hebrew poet Iehuda Amikhai, Duo Duo from China, the English novelist Tom Sharpe, the Hungarian György Konrad and the Croat Pedrag Matvejevic. Two subjects were chosen for the literary debate sessions: “The Writer and the Literary Languages on the verge of the third millennium” and “The Writer and the new Europe”.
Jaume Cabré and Baltasar Porcel participated in one of the congressional boards. Ten years later, the conviction remains that that 57th Congress was notoriously important for the promotion of Catalan Literature, especially, as it became a good public relations image in the presence of qualified representatives of culture from all over the world. An operation in favour of Catalan language and literature, that gave a consistent representation of our cultural reality before the worlds eyes. On the other hand, during the Congress in Barcelona, a now working committee was formed within the Catalan Centre, that was taken on and led, until her death, by Maria-Mercè Marçal. During this period, the Writers Committee held two sets of staged conferences and dialogues amongst writers, titled “Cartografies del desig” (Cartographies of desire), that were latter on published as a book.