Category: Basque Literature in Translation (page 1 of 2)

Downhill and Rock & Core translator Amaia Gabantxo interviewed in Basque daily

The first ever English-language translation of Basque poet Gabriel Aresti’s work by the CBS, Downhill and Rock & Core, is certainly causing quite a splash in the Basque Country. Jon Kortazar, who writes an introduction in the book, has been interviewed on Euskadi Irratia, the main public Basque-language radio station, about he book, and on April 26 the daily newspaper Berria offered an extensive (and lively) interview with Amaia Gabantxo, who was responsible for translating Aresti’s poetry into English.

For Gabantxo, Gabriel Aresti’s work marks a watershed moment for Basque culture in general, hence its importance. In her opinion, understanding Basque culture cannot begin and end with a trip to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; to really appreciate who Basques are, outsiders must be given access to their literature, art, film, dance, and music. And what better way than with Aresti? For Gabantxo, the rock metaphor is most appropriate because, “It’s  no joke, Aresti was a rock star. An anarchic guy, a complete rebel. He broke molds. We Basques don’t appreciate what we have, we’ve been so colonized by what we’ve been told…We laugh at Basque culture, and we don’t get the fact that this is what we’ve been trained to do by the discourse of colonizers. So for sure, Aresti was a rock star, and the English title reflects that.”

As regards the particulars of transforming Aresti’s original work into English-language poetry, she observes that, “the strength of a poem resides on the page, it’s not in the words on paper,  but in that distance between the reader’s eyes and the page. That’s where the essence is. That’s where I translate from, from that essence.”  And moving on to the question of translation (and translators) in general, Gabantxo is quite forthright: “It’s clear in my mind that a translator is a writer. Literary translation is a genre of writing, like theater or poetry. You can’t be a good literary translator if you’re not a good writer.  The history of world literature needs translations to stay alive: translations drive literary traditions and languages.”

See the full text of the interview (in Basque) here.

CBS translation of Gabriel Aresti into English discussed in Basque press

In El Correo Iñaki Esteban recently discussed the Center’s bilingual Basque-English publication of the canonical works of Basque poet Gabriel Aresti; part of our Classic Series that receives generous financial support from the Provincial Government of Bizkaia. As Esteban himself observes, “With English one goes everywhere, and the literature and culture in general of a country need that language as well to circulate in the world. Without translations into the lingua franca of the modern age, books are restricted to their own field of projection, whether written in Russian, Spanish, or Basque.” With this new Center publication, he continues, the “deep hole” of having none of Aresti’s work in English available has been filled. Amaia Gabantxo, who translated the work for the Center, agrees: “We need translations of Basque authors into English so our culture becomes known and so that universities can offer the subject ‘Basque Studies’ … We know other literatures through their translations.”

See the full article (in Spanish) here.

New Books! The landscape of Basque literature and the Basque Country’s place in the European Union

The publishing season is heating up and Center is proud to announce the addition of 2 new books to our great line up of titles available!

 

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This Strange and Powerful Language, by Iban Zaldua

$20.00 ISBN 978-1-935709-70-1

“This mysterious language, it is very strange, very powerful,” This is how critic George Steiner responded when asked about the survival of the Basque language. Basque is a language isolate, related to none other. It is therefore understandable that Basque literature is mostly unknown, even though much of it is now available in Spanish and English translations. In This Strange and Powerful Language: Eleven Crucial Decisions a Basque Writer Is Obliged to Face, Basque novelist and essayist Iban Zaldua set himself the task of providing a guide for outsiders to contemporary Basque authors.

His concise and readable guide was winner of the 2015 Euskadi Prize, the highest literary honor in the Basque Country. This Strange and Powerful Language is a non-academic work designed for students, teachers, and the general reader. Steiner argued that, while Basque was mysterious and ancient, it was also unimportant— a minor language incapable of supporting a body of literature. Zaldua shows that the truth is just the opposite. Moreover, by choosing to write in Basque, authors inevitably face intriguing literary and political questions of subject matter, point of view, and audience.

As Basque is an isolated language, related to no other in Europe, it is understandable that Basque writers are completely unknown to most readers. Novelist and essayist Iban Zaldua has set himself the task of providing a guide for outsiders to contemporary Basque literature, much of it now available in Spanish and English translation. This Strange and Powerful Language, winner of the 2015 Euskadi Prize for essay, is a non-academic work designed for students, teachers, and the general reader. The title comes from the abovementioned quotation from critic George Steiner.

Zaldua surveys the field of 20th and 21st century writers in Basque, including such acclaimed authors as Gabriel Aresti, Bernardo Atxaga, and Kirmen Uribe, to show that the opposite is true. Moreover, Zaldua demonstrates that by choosing to write in Basque, these writers inevitably faced other dilemmas of audience, subject matter, and style. His witty and intriguing overview shows that Basque is not, as Uribe once described it: “too old, too small perhaps.”  Instead, Zaldua states that a “language like ours presumes a point of difference, and possessing such a differential quality confers a positional, if minor, fleeting, and postcolonial value at the international fair of contemporary literature.” Basque authors, he shows, have earned their place in contemporary European literature; Zaldua’s guidebook will lead the curious reader to explore new writers.

Novelist and critic Iban Zaldua was born in Donostia-San Sebastian in 1966. His previous fiction titles include: Ipuin euskaldunak (Basque Stories, co-authored with Gerardo Markuleta); Gezurrak, gezurrak , gezurrak (Lies , lies, lies); Traizioak (Betrayals) and La isla de los antropólogos y otros relatos (Island of Anthropologists and Other Stories). In 2006 he won the top honor for Basque authors, the Euskadi Prize, for Etorkizuna: hamabost ipuin ia politiko (The Future: Fifteen Almost Political Stories). He is a regular contributor to newspapers and other media in the Basque Country. He currently lives in Vitoria-Gasteiz and is Professor of Economic History at the University of the Basque Country.

Check out a short review of the work at Buber’s Basque Page here.

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Multilevel Governance and Regional Empowerment: The Basque Country in the European Union

$29.95 ISBN 978-1-935709-71-8

How does being part of Europe affect a region, and how does a region adapt to European integration? With the startling vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union – “Brexit” – these academic questions take on real world implications. Borońska-Hryniewiecka focuses on one of Europe’s most fascinating regions – the Basque Country – and its political, economic, and cultural evolution within the structures of the European Union.

Past scholarship on the politics and economics of the Basque Country has mostly focused on issues such as nationalism, ethnic identity, or the problems of terrorism. Until now, there has been no full-length study of the development of Basque economic or political positions within European power structures. What is the effect of European integration on regions and their interests? Does the multi-level structure of the European Union empower or dis-empower regional actors? How does it affect their goals and strategies? To this end, the book provides a broad conceptualization of the notion of “regional empowerment”, presents and explains its different types, and tests them empirically in the context of Basque involvement in European affairs. The questions are not as much of particular policies and their results, but rather how policies are chosen and implemented. Studying “the Basque road to Brussels” and its real-world results helps our understanding of other fissures in the European Union, and problems of autonomy and self-determination worldwide.

This inter-disciplinary work bridges political, economic, and legal dimensions of regional participation in EU policy. The audience for this book includes both academia and the workplace: scholars and students in political science, as well as lawyers, economists, and policymakers, in the United States and Europe.

Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka (PhD) is a senior research fellow at the Polish Institute of International Affairs based in Warsaw and a lecturer at the University of Wrocław. Early in her academic career she became intrigued by the Basque Country, seeing it as a prism for understanding questions of ethnicity, autonomy, and political structures. She explored the role of the regions in the EU as a visiting fellow at the University of Deusto in Bilbao (2010), and a Jean Monnet Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence (2012/2013).

SHOP FOR BASQUE BOOKS HERE

Our newest edition to the CBS: Time to pass the torch

For the last year and a half, I have been the “newbie” PhD student at the Center for Basque Studies. Well, the time has come to pass the torch along, to someone who has lived in the Basque Country for quite a while. On behalf of the Center for Basque Studies, I would like to welcome our newest edition, Edurne Arostegui. In her own words:

“After six years living abroad in the Basque Country, I will return to the United States at the beginning of August. My plan is to spend the first couple of weeks planning my move to Reno while spending time with my parents in my home town, St. Helena, CA. I was very lucky to have received a travel stipend last year to spend a month at UNR, where I not only researched but got to know the professors, students, and staff. The library was truly wonderful, with everything you could imagine at hand. This experience encouraged me to apply for the PhD assistantship in order to focus on my studies.

edurne photo

I’m currently a PhD student at the University of the Basque Country but must work full-time, making it difficult for me to dedicate myself to my dissertation. After writing my master’s thesis on Basque stereotypes in Western literature, particularly the novels of Harry Sinclair Drago, I realized that I wanted to expand on the topic by broadening my scope to the creation of Basque-American identity. My research aims to understand how Basques were perceived by American communities in the West and the stereotypes and imagery associated with them. Once Basque-American identity was established, these same stereotypes were transformed to create positive markers of identity as well as providing a sense of belonging. Overall, my research will trace the experience of Basque migrants to the United States and the creation of an identity that differs from that of the homeland while maintaining links to its past.”

Congratulations, Edurne!  We can’t wait to have you in Reno!

 

From the Backlist: Hollywood and I and Mad City

In a literary world that tends to define Basque literature very much by place–most Basque authors come from the Basque Country, live and work there, and typically center their stories on events in that particular corner of the world–Javi Cillero stands out as a completely distinct voice. His own personal experience of detachment, displacement even, from the Basque Country, and especially that of living for many years in the United States, infuses his work to such an extent that it might almost be more accurate to describe him as an American author; or at least as a keen and informed observer of popular American culture, an outsider whose external gaze tells us a great deal about life on the inside.

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In Hollywood and I and Mad City, two works first first published in Basque and collected here in one volume, we are treated to a sharp, quirky, and eclectic blend of short stories that ooze with Americana and emblematic sites of memory in the American West: from Alcatraz and Chinatown to Virginia City, Pyramid Lake, and the Nevada desert. This is a world of dive bars and Mack trucks, casino lights, bank robbers, private detectives, and mobsters; but also of Basque and Native Americans, sheepherders and cowboys, and even college professors and students.

Check out the following excerpt from the book:

The Silver Legacy hotel-casino tower stood tall and proud in the middle of downtown Reno. There was a giant dome on the back of the building, something like a space station. Inside there was a fake starry sky, and under the sky there was a large mine wheel. Hundreds of lasers started twinkling in that sky, accompanied by music by Tchaikovsky.

Near the huge mine wheel there was a wide open area. There were souvenir shops, restaurants open twenty-four hours a day, and slot machines on either side of something like an avenue. And, unexpectedly, the Silver Legacy bar next to a row of slot machines.

As usual, it was full of people. Waiters were going here and there carrying pints of reds, porters, and lagers. The musicians were taking a break, and the people in the bar’s voices easily drowned out the television’s weak sound.

A Czech girl and the Spanish teacher were sitting in one corner. They were silent, each of them looking at their own glasses of beer. The Czech girl poured a little more for the Spanish teacher. He thanked her with a hand gesture.

Here we are, like two Hitchcock characters. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in that old movie Notorious. “Officer Devlin? I’ve got a job for you.” OK, I know, I know: too many movie references for a single night. What can I do about it? Hollywood made me, to paraphrase Graham Greene. Hollywood’s influence is so big in our education that when two friends get together now they could easily be acting out a scene from a movie. We don’t mean to. It’s our only reference. In fact, it’s wiped out family, school, and church references. Young people only pay attention to the images and roles they adopt from screens. And people who aren’t so young, too. It’s impossible to count all the men who wander around like poor wretches from Woody Allen movies without knowing what they’re doing.

The Spanish teacher had gold-framed glasses. They slipped down his nose as he spoke. He had to put them back in their place with his index finger time and again. The Czech girl took that gesture to be an invitation to say something.

“Thanks for helping me present my project. I didn’t think the university press was going to be so interested in heterodox Basque women.”

“We work with all types of subjects. In fact, we’re about to bring out a book by a Japanese writer about Ozu’s movies. It would be good for you to publish the book in Reno. When it comes down to it, the States is the only place where work like that is done. The editor’s told me the book looks very good; it’s very appropriate. And here I am, ready to lend a hand. You know, Officer Devlin’s hand . . . Hey, why don’t you stay a few more days? You’ll be able to make good use of your stay if you come to the Basque Library.”

A big man who’d come to listen to a country group came up to them to take a chair. He picked it up by its wooden back with confidence, master in his own land. The Spanish teacher looked at him with contempt when he turned away.

“And I’ll show you around. Lake Tahoe, for instance. It’s where they shot The Godfather. You know, Al Pacino: ‘My father taught me a lot of things in this room. He taught me to keep my friends close and my enemies even closer.’ I’ve got my Toyota here in the casino lot.”

“Do you have classes tomorrow?”

“I only teach Spanish classes once a week. Hefty nineteenth-century novels, Galdós and Clarín. I spend most of my time in the casinos. I’m putting together a book about Old West mythology. I don’t think America’s final frontier is the Pacific; it’s the Nevada casinos. It’s here that men and slot machines come face to face. Like in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral . . .”

Anyone interested in contemporary urban Western storytelling, with particular reference to Reno, Northern Nevada, and California, will enjoy this book. This is classic Americana with a Basque twist!

Shop for the book here.

2015 Books Round-up II: Basques in the United States, 2 vols.; Hollywood and I

In the second day of our round-up of our 2015 books we see 3 more books that continue to treat the Basque experience in the United States.

Basques in the US vol 1Basques in the US vol 2

Basques in the United States, vol. 1: Araba, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa

Basques in the United States, vol. 2: Iparralde and Nafarroa

Koldo San Sebastian, Argitxu Camus Etchecopar, et al.

The Basques in the United States is a long-term project to gather and publish information about first-generation Basque immigrants to the United States. The first fruit of this project has been published in July 2015 in two volumes (one for Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa, the other for Iparralde and Nafarroa) and contains the most comprehensive listing of Basque immigrants to the United States that has been made until now. Entries are listed arranged by the town or region of origin of the Basque immigrant and are cross-referenced by last name. An updated edition is being published in December of 2015 and plans are already in the works for further additions to increase the number of names that are included and the quality and depth of information that has been found about each person. To this end, the researchers and the Center are looking for the public’s help. We also publish a website basquesintheUS.blogs.unr.edu where the public is encouraged to help us enrich the information that has been gathered. With the help of dedicated researchers and the public at large we hope to grow this comprehensive listing of the Basques who ventured across the Atlantic to make a new life into a lasting testament to as many of those brave people who made the long and difficult trek to a strange land that soon became home for many.

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Hollywood and I and Mad City, Javi Cillero

Bringing together of 2 collections of short stories, in this book Basque writer Javi Cillero, looks mainly at US culture from they eyes of world weary, well educated, but ultimately disoriented protagonists. The caretaker of a collection of exotic animals embarks on a dangerous relationship with a mobster’s girlfriend; the tragedy of Oediupus is retold as a Western with a happy ending; revenge is wreaked on a Bilbao art dealer for his past transgressions. In these two short story collections–“Hollywood and I” and “Mad City,” brought together here and published in English fro the first time, Javi Cillero creates an astonishing variety of different worlds: Basque cities and a city of the West; the Nevada desert; jetliners, trains, cars, ferries; classic cinema and Greek myths and legends; and much much more. All are written into existence with a distinctive voice that blends noir fiction and dark humor. These stories generally tell the stories of outsiders, and it is no coincidence that thus the city of Reno, Nevada, also forms a central heart of many stories: like them, it is a place of missed connections, of sad and broken histories, and yet has the capacity for the human spirit to persevere against the odds. The characters here are just as varied as the stories themselves: witnesses and students, cowboys and art dealers, outsiders and insiders and blends of the two. The stories almost defy summary in the incredible flowering of their imaginary worlds, just as desert flowers surprise with their splash of color in the otherwise gray sagebrush steppe.

Acclaimed Basque author to speak at UNR

The Basque writer Miren Agur Meabe will, together with translator Amaia Gabantxo (who teaches at the University of Chicago), be discussing her book Kristalezko Begi bat, which will be published under the title of A Glass Eye by Parthian Books in 2016.

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Two talks, which are sponsored by the Etxepare Basque Institute, will be held on Monday, November 30 and Tuesday, December 1 (more information here).

Gabriel Aresti’s Life in a Comic

The Basque illustrator Adur Larrea,  has created a graphic novel about the life of Gabriel Aresti (1933-1975), one of the most influential Basque writers and poets: Gabriel Aresti, BioGrafikoa (Gabriel Aresti: A BioGraphic), published by the Erroa press.

Adur Larrea. Photo from uriola.eus

The comic has 90 pages spanning a period  between the 1930s and the 1970s that chart the life of the great writer. Adur combines both Spanish and Basque to offer a natural portrait of Bilbao, Aresti’s home town.

The book goes on sale today,  November 19, and if you want to taste a little bit of this work click here.

The Center for Basque Studies has an interesting selection of books in its Basque Literature and Graphic Novels sections.

Images from http://www.bizkaie.biz/

Linguae Vasconum Primitiae, now in Japanese

The first book ever printed in the Basque language is now available in Japanese. Linguae Vasconum Primitiae, written by Bernard Etxepare and published in Bordeaux (France) in 1545, marks a milestone for Basque culture. Printed almost a century later than the Gutenberg Bible, this collection of religious, autobiographical, and amorous poetry opened the doors of printing houses to a language that some thought was not writable.

The title page of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae. (BNF/Gallica)

The title page of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae (BNF/Gallica)

The book has been translated, especially into Romance and other European languages. Now it is also available for Japanese readers thanks to the work of Sho Hagio and Hiromi Yoshida, two Japanese euskaldunak (Basque speakers) who learned Euskara in Japan. The book is published by the Basque Government and the Etxepare Basque Institute.

You can obtain a copy of the English translation of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae in the Center for Basque Studies bookstore or check out it from the Basque Library of the UNR.

What’s more, you can read a digital edition of the original text by Josu Lavin and take a look at a facsimile edition by Gallica, the French national digital library.

Good Summer Reads: Children’s and Young Adult Books from the CBS

“The more you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!  

Summer is almost here and kids will be out of school soon. Great for the kids of course, but also time for parents to start getting creative when it comes to giving them something to do to fill up those long summer days. Do not fear! The Center has a range of Basque-themed books aimed specifically at children and young adults and what better way to get your kids interested in both reading and the rich culture of the Basques and the Basque-American experience? We believe these books are both entertaining and educational and we would love to see what you think.

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CBS stand at the annual Durango Book Fair in the Basque Country

Let’s start with a story for our youngest family members: The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi / Euskadiraino igerian joan zen neska, by bestselling author Mark Kurlansky, is a bilingual English-Basque tale of a little girl who one day, while swimming in the ocean near her home in Massachusetts, swims so hard that she accidentally ends up in a land called Euskadi, where the men have very long ears and flat wool hats and the people speak a strange language. When she eventually swims home she has a hard time convincing the grown-ups around her that this far-off land, where the people eat strange creatures from the sea and sing and dance, really exists. This is an ideal book to read to your youngest kids, at bedtime or anytime, and if you can speak a little Basque, why not read along in this ancient (but still living!) language?

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Young readers always welcome!

For slightly older kids, Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees, by Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton, is a whimsical story about the adventures of a five-year-old girl, Maite Echeto, her beloved friend Oui Oui Oui, a goslin she raises from the time it hatches, and her mother in the fairyland setting of the French Basque Pyrenees while her father is away in America seeking his fortune. Meet wise old Farmer August in his favorite straight-back chair beside the fireplace and Great Aunt Victoria who, whether spring, summer, or fall, always wears her black coat sweater. Find out why Oui Oui Oui (now a fully grown gander) becomes the pride of the entire village of Peace, where Maite lives with her mother. And once  Maite’s father sends for his wife and daughter, will there be a place for Oui Oui Oui in the New World? See a review of the book by Pedro J. Oiarzabal here.

Young adult (and no so young) readers are in for a treat with prizewinning Basque author Bernardo Atxaga‘s Two Basque Stories, with two tales framed around the relationship between grandfathers and grandsons.  In “Two Letters All at Once,” Old Martin, a retired Basque sheepherder in Boise, receives two letters in  the space of ten days and, being used to thinking a lot all alone on the range, begins to wonder if they’ll be the last letters he’ll ever get from the Old Country. He tries to explain all this to his eight-year-old grandson Jimmy as he reminisces about his past, growing up in a small Basque village, Obaba, with his friends Iharra and Beltza. When Iharra and Beltza fall out, Martin gets stuck in the middle of the feud, and he reflects on the meaning of friendship and unresolved enmities. “When a Snake Stares at a Bird,” this time set in Obaba itself, is a coming-of-age tale in which fourteen-year-old Sebastian, a city kid, is visiting his Grandpa Martin, who talks to animals and dreams of one day going to Terranova. Sebastian meets and falls for Mariatxo, a local girl, but cannot get his grandfather’s strange behavior–wandering into the woods and talking to all the animals there–out of his head. There is an interesting account at Euskal Kazeta of how Nere Lete, the translator of these works, came to undertake this project here.

If graphic novels are more your thing, meanwhile, then the Joanes or the Basque Whaler trilogy is what you’re looking for. Across these three novels, author and illustrator Guillermo Zubiaga tells the epic fictional tale of Joanes, who first tries to ply his trade in local waters, around the Bay of Biscay, but is gradually forced to look farther afield. Without the means to do so, he must ask local witches for help, which entails its own price, a price that will come back to haunt him in the future. While his fame and notoriety grow with every exploit he gets involved in, his flaws are also gradually exposed. This all leads to a dramatic conclusion in which our anti-hero Joanes must face up to his past wrongdoings. Here history, myth, and fantasy combine to portray the experience of Basque whalers, their adventures on the high seas, and ever expanding journeys across the oceans, as an epic equal to that of American cowboys, Norwegian Vikings, or Japanese Samurais.

Don’t forget, too, that the University of Nevada Press has published two books by the biggest selling Basque children’s fiction author of all time, Mariasun Landa: The Dancing Flea and Karmentxu and the Little Ghost, two groundbreaking works that explore topics not usually addressed by American children’s books.

So come on folks… let’s get those kids reading this summer!

And watch this space… because this year the CBS will be publishing the English-language debut of Kirmen Uribe‘s famed Basque gunslinger Garmendia. As well-known as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, or Wyatt Earp back in the day, here in this Wild West adventure story Garmendia is pursued by evil Tidy Harry–who runs Clean City–and his henchmen Rat and Bat.

 

 

 

 

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