Joan Errea, the author of My Mama Marie is making a major splash in the Basque Country. Her manuscript A Man Called Aita has recently been published as Aita deitzen zen gizona by Pamiela in Basque to widespread acclaim! Good friend of the Center Pello Salaburu has been instrumental in its being published in Basque and has provided the introduction for it. The book was presented in April in Baigorri, in the Basque Country, and Josephine, Joan’s sister, who lives in Erraztu, was able to attend the event!
The book tells the story of Joan’s family and especially her beloved father Arnaud Paris, but also many of the other characters with whom the author grew up in the Nevada countryside. The stories are written in rhyming verse and the books was presented to Pello translated into Basque by the author herself, in the dialect from Nafarroa Beherea, in a story full of emotion and respect for the experiences lived by this family of Basque immigrants.
Pello has written about the genesis of the book’s Basque edition in our 2015 newsletter, which I quote here:
When I read My Mama Marie I was so impressed that on my next trip to Nevada I decided to rent a car and spend a few days in the inhospitable places described in the book. Today there are only mountain lions and rattlesnakes there. Hard to imagine the 18 year old girl with nowhere to go, a suitcase in hand at the Currie train station, after an endless journey that had started in the village of Banka in the Northern Basque Country. Hard to imagine her working at the Currie Hotel or at the Eureka Hotel, or fighting with her mother in the kitchen of their Forest Ranch and tinkering with an old car whose ruins still remain today. The solitude of those places is impressive, first abandoned by the hand of God and now abandoned by the hand of man. But that place was a few decades ago a lively place. My trip to the sites referred to in the pages of his book ended in Winnemucca. There I met Joan Errea, as well as John and Lianne Iroz, Joan’s son-in-law and daughter. I spent a very pleasant time at their home, while Joan, full of energy, showed photos in her computer and talked to me of Louis, from Baigorri, who had passed away some years ago. When I was saying goodbye to her she told me that she had a present for me. And, among other things, she gave me a manuscript with the title A Man Called Aita. I told her I would read it on the plane back home. So I did. The first thing that surprised me was the introduction: it was in English, but also in Basque, in the dialect of Baigorri. Then came the pictures: the family members, cowboys, bears, coyotes, bulls, the ranch, the train, the old car, ants, holidays, Christmas, the adventures of children, etc. All this was in English. In view of the introduction I got in touch with her daughter Lianne and suggested her that she should encourage her mother to put everything in Basque. Lianne answered quickly: my mother and I did so a few years ago. And she sent me the manuscript in Basque. When I read those pages I was astonished. It was a beautiful text, written in a very close and moving style. And, most surprising, it was written in verse.
Here are 2 videos from the Baigorri event and another from the book’s formal presentation in Sara in March, posted on YouTube: