I finally launched A Year in Lisbon in Lisbon itself last weekend. There were two events, one on the Saturday in Palavra de Viajante, and one on Sunday in Bookshop Bivar.
I had been a little worried about the Saturday event, as I had been attempting to promote it from Ireland and without any real connections. I had been having nightmares of speaking in front of 8 people. In the end the turnout was adequate, fifteen people showed up. It was always my intention to talk about the book in Portuguese in this bookshop, and so that is what I did for about fifteen minutes. Before I started, my Spanish friend Luis Gorrochategui introduced me in Gallego, the language from the north-west of Spain that is similar in many ways to Portuguese and which the Portuguese can understand quite easily.
Most of the rest of the event was in English though, and it turned out that the majority of people were English speakers there anyway. We had quite an interesting and relaxed discussion afterwards, generally centred around how Lisbon has changed, and how the city changed me personally, and Cian, the main character in the novel. One person asked me why I hadn’t just written a biography or memoir of my three years in Lisbon, and I told him that I didn’t think I had a very interesting life, and that fictionalising it was much more fun.
On the Sunday, I was in Bookshop Bivar, near to Arroios. The crowd here was better; about 24 people turned up, which was gratifying. Both the bookshop owner and I had done a lot of promotion of the event, so it was pleasing to see it come off. Twenty-four may not sound like a lot of people, but it filled the shop.
Unfortunately, at that stage a flu, which I had first started experiencing on the flight over, was really kicking in, and I was feeling shivery and weak and ill. So I did my best, but was unable to put any real energy into the event or the reading, or into talking to people afterwards. I survived it, nothing more. There was an ok response, but not many people were interested in asking questions or knowing much more about the book. I think my lack of energy added to the dearth of engagement. Some people were kind and interested though, but in the end I just wanted to be out of there and back in bed.
So after a lot of build-up, the weekend was a bit of an anti-climax, mainly because I felt so ill during the three days I was there. I rented a small apartment in Lisbon on Airbnb, and basically didn’t leave it for three days, except to go to the two launches and have dinner on Saturday night.
Right now, I think it is time to concentrate on my work here, which really should be taking up all my time and attention, and to just leave the book out there to fend for itself. I have spent a lot of the last eight months, on and off, promoting the book, and it has been, in many ways, exhausting. Launching it in Lisbon was just something that I had to get out of my system, after the cancellations last year, so now I have done that, it is time to just let it go.