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

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

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

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.


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?


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.





Mothers and Writers


On June 3, 2015, in a column published by the Basque daily Berria (“‘Ai, Ama!’-renak”), Elixabete Garmendia discussed the stories of 17 women authors published by the CBS in an anthology edited by Gema Lasarte and entitled Ultrasounds: Basque Women Writers on Motherhood. Garmendia discusses current debates on the social realities and cultural conceptions of motherhood. She emphasizes the feelings of guilt modern mothers frequently experience for all sorts of reasons in the current working environment and as the result of changing nursing and educational patterns. Garmendia makes references to a “romanticized neo-maternalism” in which apparently progressive attitudes are in fact retrograde and in which women are blackmailed into having to achieve perfection in their parental roles.

To read the original article (in Basque), click here.

Gemma Martinez Presents Special Lecture on the Basque Tax System



The Center for Basque Studies is hosting a special lecture on the Basque Tax system. The guest speaker is Mrs. Gemma Martínez Bárbara,  a graduate in law with a postgraduate degree in taxation. She works as a tenured official (1991) for the Government of Bizkaia. She has been Head of the Tax Policy Unit of the Foral Treasury in the Government of Bizkaia since 1999. She is in charge of tax reform legislative projects to be proposed to the Bizkaia General Assemblies (the provincial parliament of Bizkaia). She gives taxation expertise support to the Tax Coordination Body of Euskadi and is a representative of the Basque Institutions in the D–5 Working Group on the Code of Conduct and on the CCCTB, dependent on ECOFIN, in Brussels. She collaborates as a professor with the University of Deusto and the Chamber of Commerce of Bilbao in graduate programs and with the University of the Basque Country as a lecturer in seminars on tax issues. She is an active writer in several journals dealing with fiscal and European Law matters (European Taxation, Aranzadi, Fitax, and so on). She is a permanent collaborator with the Ad Concordiam Association for the Promotion and Difussion of the Fiscal Pact (the agreement by which fiscal relations between Basque Autonomous Community and the Spanish state are regulated). In 2013, she was the winner of the Leizaola Award for her research on Tax Synchronization and Basque legislative powers.

Language Rights and Cultural Diversity


The United States constitution does not clearly stipulate the official language of the country, although English is the most spoken language in governmental, educational, and business circles. Maybe the reason for this is because the founding fathers of this nation tried to preserve the values of diversity rooted in early American society by eliminating any official language clause from the constitution. Being the land of the free and the home of the brave, freedom to choose what language you like to speak is unquestionable. However, there are growing concerns among the established English-speaking elites of this country that the expanding immigrant population in America will soon affect what is understood to be the common language in the United States. It is possible that, several decades from now, Spanish will be the major spoken language in America (with the Hispanic population growing so fast). Will this language shift eradicate the established culture in America? Or is it just a part of the phobia of a handful of Americans, derived from a centuries old racism and white supremacy ideas?

One of the Super Bowl commercials last year resulted in controversial reactions among conservative Americans. In the commercial, several American citizens of different ethnic backgrounds sing “America the Beautiful” in many different languages. The subliminal message within the commercial is aimed at provoking the audience’s perspective regarding pluralism in America, which can be manifested in multilingualism and a multicultural tradition. The commercial depicts an ideal interpretation of American society in which people live hand-in-hand in diversity. Yet this has not been the reality, as racial discrimination has been a part of the American History since the inception of the nation. Slavery existed in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, nativism is a growing political perspective in the America. Nativist worldviews demand a favored status for the established inhabitants of a nation and, hence, a  lower political or legal status for certain group or ethnicities. One of the items on the political agenda of nativism is maintaining the spirit of mass nationalism, including promoting the use of a national language. Nevertheless, over-enforcement of a national language can potentially lead to language repression and cultural genocide, a centuries old primordial tyranny that has resulted in to the extinction of ancient language and cultures.

The book Language and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio, includes case studies that amplify the loss of the linguistic and cultural richness of Basques, Native-Americans, and French-Canadians. Irujo and Miglio maintain that the lack of political, cultural, and legal support has contributed to linguistic and cultural degradation. Woven throughout the book is a belief in the power of discourse and research to protect and even enhance linguistic diversity. Nevertheless, language preservation is only possible if there is an adequate acceptance of cultural diversity and multilingualism as positive outcomes for the whole nationwide population, not just for a minority. It is also recommended that the concept of a monolingual, monocultural nation-state must be abandoned and instead, the concept of a multicultural state should be adopted. Nevertheless, how a multicultural state can be maintained remains open to question. The fact that there has been significant resistance from some American citizens to embrace the multicultural idea shows that the struggle against cultural genocide is an ongoing fight.

For further reading please visit the following link:

April 23, World Book and Copyright Day: Time to Celebrate CBS Books


Celebrate World Book Day with Center for Basque Studies Books.

April 23 is the day set aside by both UN and UNESCO to celebrate world literature. Here at the CBS, our mission is to conduct and publish Basque-related research in a wide range of fields. As such, we would like to join in this celebration of the joy and pleasure of books and encourage anyone reading this to browse our current list of titles. What’s more, we also have a number of books available free to download. Check out the list here.

Here’s some of what other’s have been saying about our books…

Alejandro Aldekoa: Master of Pipe and Tabor Dance Music in the Basque Country  by Sabin Bikandi: “This is a seriously good piece of work . . . The book, with its associated DVD, is a tour de force that seems destined to become a—if not the—definitive work on the subject and is essential reading for anyone interested in three-hole pipe music, or Iberian folk music and dance at large” (Simon Furey, Folk Music Journal).

An Anthology of Basque Short Stories, compiled by Mari Jose Olaziregi: “This anthology is such a milestone” (Maite Núñez-Betelu, World Literature in Review).

Rossetti’s Obsession by Ramon Saizarbitoria: “A thoughtful and engaging novella . . . The translation from Euskera, by Saizarbitoria’s daughter Madalen, is extremely graceful and often elegant. The Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, is to be congratulated for including this title in their Basque Literature Series and thereby giving an English-reading public a chance to become acquainted with one of the most important writers of the Basque Country” (David Laraway, World Literature in Review).

The Basques, by Julio Caro Baroja : “a model ethnography based on a profound knowledge of the Basque region, its history and prehistory, and its folk culture” (David Elton Gay, Journal of Folklore Research).

The Red Notebook by Arantxa Urretabizkaia: “A sensitive and delicate portrait of a woman whose political activities have long kept her separated from her young children . . . The novella’s final pages, in particular, invite serious reflection on the relationship between an intimate yet marginalized language such as Euskara and attempts to translate it into other, more widely spoken, idioms . . . It is a worthy addition to an already distinguished collection of recent Basque writing in English translation. Any reader wishing to get the pulse of contemporary writing in Euskara would be well advised to begin here” (David Laraway, World Literature in Review).

The Challenges of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi: A work  “that exemplifies the important social aspects that need to be considered when doing research on Basque in particular or bilingualism in general” (Itxaso Rodriguez, Journal of Sociolinguistics).

Waking the Hedgehog: The Literary Universe of Bernardo Atxaga, by  Mari Jose Olaziregi:  “Olaziregi’s study is informative and does an excellent job of articulating the extraordinary richness of Atxaga’s creative universe” (Mark C. Aldrich, Confluencia).

Do you want to learn more about the important work we are doing here to publish Basque books in English? Sign up for our books newsletter on our website here, sign up to get our yearly print newsletter here! Or contact us at any time! We never share you personal information with anyone.






Grants for Translators to Study Basque in the Basque Country

Donostia-San Sebastián 2016 European Capital of Culture and  the Etxepare Basque Institute, in collaboration with EIZIE (the Association of Translators, Correctors and Interpreters of Basque Language), have just launched a new program aimed at bringing translators to the Basque Country to study Euskara (the Basque language), with a view to them incorporating Basque as either a pivot or source language for their future translations.


“E Translating Wikipedia” by Marbora – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons


The translators chosen will be awarded grants to live in at a barnetegi (a boarding school for adult learners of Basque) and complete intensive Basque-language classes there.

This is a great offer for anyone interested in learning (or improving their) Basque as well as using this knowledge professionally. The deadline for applications is May 14. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


Anyone interested in studying Basque should check out Nancy Zubiri’s affectionate record here of her journey on the road to becoming an euskaldun or Basque speaker.  And for the experience of living and studying in a barnetegi, see the “Euskaldundu: One Girl’s Journey to the Land and Language of Her Ancestors” blog at the EITB (Basque Public Media Group) website.

If you’re interested in the Basque language, check out Estibaliz Amorrortu’s Basque Sociolinguistics, which examines the social and cultural aspects of Euskara, and The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi, a collection of essays that explores the current status of Basque and the challenges it faces as a minority language.

The Cleveland Model: Basque style cooperative organization in America



In a traditional hierarchical company, workers have no influence on the day-to-day business routine and have no share in the corporation’s profit pie. As a result, the workers can be apathetic toward the company, as they do not feel like a part of the organization. The everyday working experience is just another clocking in and clocking out, collecting the hour’s wages. On the other hand, in a worker-owned and worker-controlled business firm such as a cooperative, employees have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and be a part of the company’s success. The cooperative organization is the depiction of capitalism with a human face, a hybrid economic model between socialism and capitalism. Although operatives have the characteristic of a philanthropic based organization, in structure most cooperatives are a for-profit organization, owned and run by the people who actually work in the organization. In this type of business, each worker, from production worker to top management, gets one vote in the major decision-making process. Both the lower level employees and administration staff earn an equal share of income, disposing of the requirement for any government-set minimum wage. In addition, workers participate in a voting process and group discussion to secure their business interests and ensure a healthy monetary position for the cooperative from which they earn their fortune. Therefore, cooperatives tend to encourage long-haul and stable employment with a better working environment and better income.

The study of the cooperative movement is gaining public attention when it comes to economic inequality issues. One the most cited cases studied in this matter is that of the Mondragón Cooperative Cooperation (MCC) located in the Basque Country of Spain. Mondragón is a prime example of how a cooperative structure can provide goods and services to society while at the same time creating wealth for the community. Mondragón co-ops have turned a formerly depressed area of the Basque Country in Spain into a thriving community, producing, among other things, computer chips, high-tech machinery, and large appliances. As Mondragón and most cooperative organizations tend to reinvest some of their corporate earnings back into the local community, they tend to favor sustainable business models that generate local employment and promote entrepreneurship. While embracing free market principles, Mondragón energizes its employees to strive for proficiency, quality control, and productivity so that their organization competes successfully in the commercial world. Following labor union standards, the Mondragón cooperative also tends to allow its employees to sort out and arrange their working environment, sensible working hours, and reasonable pay. The Mondragón business methodology decentralizes forces within the managerial structure and in this manner reduces the possibility of corruption and corporate espionage. The superiority of Mondragón cooperative models in resolving the antagonism between labor and capital has inspired others to embrace the cooperative as a model for community development in lower income regions.

Mondragón Style Cooperatives in America

One of the pioneers of an alternative business model in America, based on the highly successful Mondragón cooperative, is the Evergreen Cooperative in the Cleveland, Ohio. The Evergreen Cooperative was initiated in 2008 as a result of a joint venture among Cleveland-based organizations Including the Cleveland Foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, the University of Maryland College Park, Case Western Reserve University, and the City of Cleveland. The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative is attempting to create occupations with livable wages in six neighborhoods with an average income per household below $18,500. This region is also known as the Greater University Circle (GUC).

 For further reading please visit:


Ultrasounds: Basque Motherhood Reexamined

La Crianza by Basque artist Aurelio Arteta, from Pinterest

Ultrasounds (2014), compiles different stories written by seventeen Basque female writers that create a stunning new portrait of the “mother” and the “motherhood” in the Basque Country.  Selected and introduced by Gema Lasarte, these stories delve deeply into the role of the mother in Basque culture. “The mother has always been a particularly potent symbol for the Basques” (Linda White & Elizabeth Macklin). In the last decades, not only the society but also literature has discussed about the perception of new identities. Identities that deviated from the dualities like mother/woman or male/female. The Basque literature is a clear example of that new era.  In fact, the concept of what the motherhood is has changed.  And the texts that appears in that book confirm the new direction that Basque society is taking.

The Basque feminist and anthropologist Elixabete Imaz argues that there is many different ways to be a mother. And this statement is reflected in the anthology. Actually, the main contribution that Basque female writers have made is to write about the figure of mother with all the nuances and complexities that surround it. Gemma Lasagabaster remarks that Motherhood is a key theme in contemporary feminist criticism, and, in particular, the difficulties that motherhood poses for writers. For this reason, the book is a real challenge to the status quo. Not only because they are rebuilding the concept of motherhood, but also because they are doing in English.

A book that is a turning point in the way that it shows the complexities of an archetypical image like the “mother” in the Basque culture.

Painting at top, La Crianza by Aurelio Arteta, taken from Pinterest.


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