Day: November 24, 2010

Potosí (Bolivia)

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The information below was taken from Bolivia Travel Guide

Potosí is the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is at an altitude of 3,967 meters (13,015 feet) and has about 115,000 inhabitants. It is claimed to be the highest city in the world. It lays beneath the Cerro de Potosí — sometimes referred to as the Cerro Rico ("Rich Mountain”) — a mountain of silver ore, which has always dominated the city. Cerro de Potosi’s peak is 4,824 meters (15,827 feet) above sea level. Potosí was the richest province in the Spanish empire, providing a great percentage of the silver that was shipped to Europe.

Founded 1546 as a mining town, it soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming one of the largest cities in the Americas and the world with a population exceeding 200,000 people. In the Spanish language there is still a saying, “vale un Potosi” ("to be worth a Potosi” a fortune). For Europeans, Peru — Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Perú and was known as Alto Perú before becoming independent — was a mythical land of riches. The city of San Luis Potosi in Mexico was named after Potosí in Bolivia. In the United States, the name Potosi was also given to lead-mining towns of Potosi, Wisconsin, Potosi Missouri, and also to the silver-mining town of Potosi, Nevada.

By the time Bolivian independence (1825), the mines of the Cerro Rico were almost exhausted. In the mid 19th century, a fall in silver prices hurt Potosi’s economy in a way from which it has never completely recovered. On December 11, 1987 (in Paris, France), the UNESCO declared the city of Potosí a "World Heritage Site" in recognition for its rich history and its wealth of colonial architecture.

The Spanish dollar

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I am finishing City of Silver by Annamaria Alfieri, my last book for the 2010 Global Reading Challenge, and I have thought that the following information, drawn from Wikipedia, may be of interest to some readers.

The Spanish dollar (also known as the piece of eight, the real de a ocho or the eight-real coin) is a silver coin, of approximately 50mm Ø, worth eight reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire after a Spanish currency reform in 1497. Its purpose was to correspond to the German thaler. It was the coin upon which the US dollar was based, and it remained legal tender in the United States until the Coinage Act of 1857 discontinued the practice. Because it was widely used in Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, it became the first world currency by the late 18th century.

The main new world mints for Spanish dollars were at Potosí, Lima, and Mexico City, and silver dollars minted at these mints could be distinguished from the ones minted in Spain, by virtue of the Pillars of Hercules design on the reverse.

The origin of the "$" sign has been variously accounted for. The most widely accepted theory is that it derives from the Spanish coat of arms engraved on the Spanish colonial silver coins, the "Real de a ocho" or Spanish dollars. (See also Wikipedia).

Ana María Matute: Premio Cervantes

The Spanish writer Ana María Matute has just won the most prestigious literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world, the Premio Cervantes.

Ana María Matute at Wikipedia

Olvidado Rey Gudú, one of her most acclaimed books, at Goodreads.

Ana María Matute official webpage (in Spanish).

Spanish Crime Fiction Awards in 2010

La Bòbila has published the following list of the Spanish Crime Fiction Awards in 2010. The Pepe Carvalho Award to the Spanish writer Andreu Martín is not included here, the award ceremony will take place in 2011.

  • Premio L’H Confidencial 2010, premio internacional de novela negra: Caminos cruzados, Erlantz Gamboa (Roca)
  • Premio Pepe Carvalho: Ian Rankin
  • IV Premio internacional de novela negra “Ciudad de Carmona”: La Frontera Sur, José Luis Muñoz (Almuzara)
  • III Premi Crims de Tinta: Negres tempestes, Teresa Solana (La Magrana)
  • Premi Ferran Canyameres de Novel•la: Detalls culinaris, de Josep Torrent (Pagès)
  • Premios Brigada 21
  • Premio Dashiell Hammett: Ciudad Santa, Guillermo Orsi (Almuzara)
  • XII Premio Francisco García Pavón: Frío de muerte, Manuel Nonídez (Rey Lear)
  • VIII Premio Novelpol: El poder del perro, Don Winslow (Mondadori)
  • XIV Premio Ciudad de Getafe de Novela Negra: No hay perro que viva tanto, Francisco Balbuena (Edaf)
  • Premio internacional de novela negra RBA 2010: Live Wire, Harlan Coben (RBA)

I have read some Ian Rankin’s, Indridason’s La dona de verd (English title Silence of the Grave) and Domingo Villar’s La playa de los ahogados (English title Death on a Galician Shore). In my TBR shelves I can find Don Winslow’s El poder del perro (Original title, The Power of the Dog), Guillermo Orsi’s Ciudad Santa and some other Teresa Solana’s books. In my wish list Harlan Coben’s Live Wire, Erlantz Gamboa’s Caminos cruzados and La Frontera Sur by José Luis Muñoz.