Category: CBS books (page 1 of 10)

Getting to Know Basque Books: From Bizkaia to Boise: The Memoirs of Pete T. Cenarrusa

While reading Bizkaia to Boise I couldn’t help but have the image of Pete Cenarrusa as the dashing male protagonist in a Golden Era of Hollywood film directed by Frank Capra. He fit the role perfectly, a child of Basque immigrants, grew up on a ranch and knew all about agriculture, did not speak English when he first went to grade school but worked his way to become a graduate at the University of Idaho, a fraternity member, a skilled boxer, a Marine Corps pilot that served in World War II, and a passionate teacher and politician. He was friendly, caring and determined. If his life story could have been written about 60 years earlier, you just know it would have been adapted into a screen play and Cenarrusa would’ve been played by the likes of Jimmy Stewart or Carey Grant. There was no doubt that Cenarrusa was a classic example of a true American man.Bizkaia to Boise book cover

All the while, Cenarrusa was still undeniably Basque. The child of Jose Mari Zenarruzabeitia-Muguira from the countryside of Munitibar and Ramona Gardoqui from Gernika, Cenarrusa always spoke Basque at home. His interest in his heritage extended to his time at University of Idaho, where he was often found at the library researching the current events of Euskadi, which at the time were troubling, WWII was brewing and he researched as well the recent bombing of his mother’s hometown of Gernika and the dictatorship of Franco. Based on this research, Cenarrusa was up on and involved in Basque politics for the remainder of his life, and even planted three seedlings of the tree of Gernika in the Boise.

Lt Governor Brad Little with Pete Cenarrusa from Emmett, Idaho via Wikimedia Commons

Lt Governor Brad Little with Pete Cenarrusa from Emmett, Idaho via Wikimedia Commons

It is clear that Cenarrusa was a person of great character, even in the arena of politics, where most people reputations are tarnished and their worst sides are pointed out, Democrats and Republicans alike couldn’t say much bad about Cenarrusa. It seems that in the end, Cenarrusa just wanted the best for his family, his state and his country, and was one of the few who got in and took action to do what he thought was best for the future. In the end, I think the best way to summarize this book is a quote from the intro of Bizkaia to Boise written by C.L. “Butch” Otter: “There is no one I know in the public life who is more respected, more admired, and more beloved than Pete Cenarrusa. After reading this book, I think you’ll know why.”

Getting to Know Basque Books: My Mama Marie

I read My Mama Marie by Joan Errea about a month ago and while reading it, I was reminded of the summer vacations my family and I would take to my mom’s childhood house outside Enterprise, Oregon. My mom’s family raised sheep when she was growing up and have been in and out of the ranching business for generations, so there were many stories in My Mama Marie that reminded me of sitting around in my mom’s childhood home looking through old photographs, letters and books, while my older relatives told stories that we had all heard a million times and walking around the hills of rural Oregon that used to be my grandfather’s sheep’s grazing grounds. Both the book and the experiences I have with my mom’s family are a way of understanding people who have been gone for years, that we can only know through the memories of others and photographs and trinkets they left behind.

Family is a complex and defining part of life, often shaping the foundation for the way we live and view the world through the course of our lives. Errea in her book My Mama Marie shares her memories of growing up on the ranches of rural Nevada, focusing on her relationship with her mother, Marie Jeanne Goyhenetche.

Farmland near Enterprise, Oregon by Adam Vogt via Wikimedia Commons

Errea goes through the course of her mother’s life starting with her childhood in the French Pyrenees to her immigrating to the United States and starting a family with Errea’s father, Arnaud Paris, on the ranches of rural Nevada. My Mama Marie is full of stories of celebration, heartbreak, love and understanding. Though there are many stories of what it is like to live on a ranch and what it is like to live in rural Nevada, My Mama Marie is at its core a story about how a daughter begins to understand her mother, which I think is why in the end it is so relatable.

Currie, Nevada Depot by Mark Hufstetler via Wikimedia Commons

At Midnight by Javier Arzuaga

I started loving books about prisons when I was about fifteen, when I picked up The Green Mile by Stephen King, which is still one of my all-time favorites. I then moved onto The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King and I am now beginning to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (which one is technically a short story and the other isn’t technically about a prison, but you get the idea). They are just so gritty and dark, yet hopeful and understanding, usually saying more about life and death through the tales of those who are vulnerable enough to really understand their existential value, than you get out of most books.

 

So it wasn’t surprising when I fell in love with At Midnight by Javier Arzuaga, a book I absolutely adore for three reasons. First of all, the book’s plot itself is fascinating; it is a true account of Arzuaga’s experience as a Catholic priest at La Cabaña, the prison where the accomplices of the overthrown dictator after the Cuban Revolution were held. Arzuaga’s job was to console those who were sent to be executed. Through the process of Arzuaga consoling fifty-five men sent to death, he shares his thoughts on life, death, God and religion, from the perspective of someone whose job it is to deal with these existential topics constantly.

A view of La Cabana, Havana, Cuba, photo by Micheal N. Escobar via Wikimedia Commons

The second reason is this is the first book I had ever read before it was published and it was downright magical seeing the process of publication and seeing something materialize from just words on a screen become a book. It is one nice looking book as well, with the artwork making you feel as though you are walking through the door to the afterlife.
The third reason I loved this book is that, unlike The Green Mile or The Shawshank Redemption, At Midnight a true account, which adds a whole new level to it. Not only is it interesting that this actually happened, but since Arzuaga was an actual person, instead of a character, it gives it a sense of irony and comfort that you can’t get from a fictional book; that the author, who had to deal with so much death, has an afterlife through his accounts of life and death.

 

NOTE from BasqueBooksEditor: Welcome to Carly Sauvageau. Carly is a journalism student here at UNR and has joined the team as our student assistant—and the latest contributor to the Basque Books Blog! Welcome aboard Carly and thanks for sharing your thoughts about this amazing book with us! All you all out there, if you don’t have a copy of At Midnight, you should get one soon 🙂

 

 

 

Welcome Young Basques! Udaleku Comes to the Center

Udaleku is an annual summer camp for Basque kids, ages 10 to 15, for two weeks in the middle of July. While at Udaleku, the kids learn about their Basque culture and heritage and make friends with other Basque kids from seven different states, Canada and the Basque Country.

This year, Udaleku is being held in Reno, and we were lucky enough to have the campers stop by Center as they were touring the UNR campus! To start off, the participants were welcomed by Jacqueline Casey for the Jon Bilbao Basque Library. She explained to them the library’s work with archives, books and the support for the diaspora. CBS Press book editor, Daniel Montero, welcomed the young Basques to the Center and told the campers about CBS’s history starting with William A. Douglass researching Basque sheep herders through the Desert Research Institute in the 1960s and how the CBS Press is now the main publisher for Basque books in English in the world. He also talked about the two main aspects of the CBS, with the academic side of the Center with the various programs and degrees of studying the Basque culture, and the media and book publishing side with the CBS Press.

 

After that the kids were free to look around the library. Some then began to look at the books, one Udaleku participant went straight for a copy of Basques in the United States Volume 2: Iparralde and Naforroa, finding with great delight his great grandfather among the book’s short biographies.

 

Another girl, interested in Basque mythology, found a copy of Wentworth Webster’s Basque Legends and immediately sat down at a table and read. Others wandered around, some looking at the displays put up around the library, finding a photo they were in from Udaleku 2010 and others looking at the tree carvings and pelota equipment. While there were many kids who were enthralled by all the books and displays the CBS has to offer, many others were fascinated by a visitor favorite at the library—the moving book shelves.

Echevarria, by Gretchen Skivington

From the Center for Basque Studies Books Newsletter:

The Center is proud to launch Echevarria, a novel in which dialogue is central, and to participate in the celebration of bertsolaritza at this year’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. In that spirit, here are some more things you may be interested in!

Much of what it means to be human is revealed through language and the spoken word predates its written counterpart by millennia. Indeed, whether we realize it or not, oral culture is at the very heart of the Western cultural legacy with the Homeric epics—the earliest works of Western literature—ostensibly oral in nature. Orality pervades Basque culture to this day and the Center’s publications reflect this fascinating dimension of the Basque experience in general. Voicing the Moment: Improvised Oral Poetry and Basque Tradition, edited by Samuel G. Armistead and Joseba Zulaika, is, to date, the most detailed study in English of the specifically Basque phenomenon of bertsolaritza–“versifying” or improvised oral poetry that is sung in different formal and informal contexts–and how this art form is part of the global oral tradition of verse. Likewise, Part I of Basque Literary History, edited and with a preface by Mari Jose Olaziregi, is devoted to oral literature, with chapters on the current state of orality as a literary form and the history of bertsolaritza. And beyond those works that specifically address Basque oral culture, it is interesting to note just how deep orality runs in the Basque storytelling tradition, whether it be in the form of tales from the Old Country as transcribed and discussed in Wentworth Webster’s charming Basque Legends, or the New World recollections of Joan Errea in her compelling autobiographical accounts of growing up in a Basque household rural Nevada: My Mama Marie and A Man Called Aita. And what better platform to reflect the influence of the oral culture storytelling craft than in literature for children and young adults? 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. Meanwhile, renowned Basque author Bernardo Atxaga’s Two Basque Stories includes two tales framed around the relationship between grandfathers and grandsons that clearly reflect this oral storytelling tradition. Finally, for many examples of early bertsoak from the West, check out Asun Garikano’s Far Western Basque Country!

Echevarria is a new house, a new world, etxe (house) berria (new). It tells one hundred years of solitude and family history in Elko, Nevada and the Basque diaspora. The new family in the West is the necessary and awkward melding of Basque, Mexican, Chinese and Anglo settlers on the frontier. The human family is eternal and inviolable and there is only one story to tell—the intersection of young boy and young girl and the eternity of love. Death is its companion. And at the center of their journey is Echevarria—the Basque hotel.

$20.00
ISBN 978-1-935709-90-9
SHOP HERE

Dr. Xabier Irujo presents at the 52. Durangoko Azoka

While wrapping up my fieldwork after spending a year here in the Basque Country, I took a day to travel from Bilbao to Durango to see the famous Durango Book Fair. Aside from getting to travel with a friend to this happening scene, with numerous publishers, book stores, and new media, I was able to see a familiar face. Professor Xabier Irujo was presenting his book titled “The Verdad Alternativa“, which discusses the lies and propaganda regarding the catastrophic effects of the bombing of Gernika.  The session was well attended with standing room only, with several from the audience providing follow-up questions.

Congratulations Professor Irujo!  Look forward to seeing you and everyone else at the Center for Basque Studies in January!

 

“Revitalizing Indigenous Languages” Lecture by Dr.Jon Reyhner at the CBS

 

Jon Rehyner bilaketarekin bat datozen irudiak

Dr. Jon Reyhner

Last Tuesday, November 21, we welcomed to the Center for Basque Studies Dr. Jon Reyhner. Dr. Reyhner is a Professor of Education and coordinator for the bilingual multicultural education program at  Northern Arizona University.

His interesting and passionate lecture was focused on the importance of revitalizing Indigenous languages in the United States. According to his discussion, revitalizing Indigenous languages is necessary to heal the wounds of colonialism, to improve student’s behavior, as well as improve academic success. Language is the most important tool for cultural identity and memory and gives the ability to preserve one’s heritage while also allowing one to assimilate with other cultures without alienation or loss of one’s uniqueness.

Language can also bring together multiple generations and allows one to feel connected to their roots and ancestors.  Dr. Reyhner had multiple interesting accounts of his time as a teacher working with Indigenous languages.  From his own perspective and life experiences, he discussed the struggles and triumphs of these various programs promoting bilingual education.

This presentation was extremely interesting and very relevant for us at the Center for Basque Studies.  Minority languages although at times have difficulty surviving, individuals such as Dr. Reyhner and others continue to strive and dedicate their time and hard work to their preservation and growth.

Thank you so much for your time and presentation, Dr. Reyhner!  

Eskerrik asko!

Dr.Reyhner at the Center for Basque Studies. Photo by Inaki Arrieta Baro, Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

If you are interested in some of his writings you might enjoy reading Language Rights and Cultural Diversity. This book analyzes the official status of many minority languages, as well as their cultural, political, and legal situation, showing the worldwide linguistic diversity and cultural richness.

Basque Heritage Provides a Novel Theme: The Sheep Walker`s Daughter

By Sydney Avey

Who are the people we come from? Dee stops asking that question. But after her secretive mother dies, people who each know part of her story come forward.

Geography and culture play a critical role in grounding readers in a fictional story. I chose a Basque heritage for my first novel’s main character precisely because I knew nothing about the Basques. It was the perfect choice. Dolores Moraga Carter (Dee) knows nothing about the Basques either, but she will learn. And her discovery will change her life.

In 2014, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter received an honorable mention in a literary contest sponsored by the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Given the fact that I am not Basque, I felt highly honored. In October 2017, the Center published the second edition of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter as a Basque Originals.

An early reviewer characterized the book as a coming-of-age story of a middle-aged woman. I hadn’t thought of it this way, but it rings true. Part of figuring out who we are is understanding our family history. I wrote this story to explore the motives my own mother had in keeping our family heritage a secret.

It isn’t uncommon for a novelist to explore troubling family issues in the guise of fiction. In the process, authors make choices about which personal details to include and which to change. I chose a different heritage from my own because I wanted to stand in Dee’s shoes, free of preconceptions, and explore a culture I knew nothing about.

Why the Basques?

I didn’t have a budget to visit the country I chose, but I needed to have some sense of place to write credibly. I have been to Barcelona and love it. Having some knowledge of that region gave me a place to start some virtual road tripping (films, YouTube) and develop a sense of the terrain.

A Google search led me to the Basque population centers in the United States. Bakersfield, CA was on the list, just a four hour drive from my home in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, That allowed me to do some original research.

The Basque culture is a mystery to many Americans, even those of Basque origin. After the first edition came out, many people stepped up to tell me that their heritage was Basque. That they didn’t know much about the culture affirmed that I made the right decision. The Basque theme also popped up in reviews.

“This historical novel introduced me to the Basque culture.”

“The Basque culture was always of interest to me and she described it beautifully from the way of life to the food.”

“The well-researched Basque culture of California provides a credible backdrop for the characters’ emotional journeys as they negotiate between self and family, coldness and warmth, old hurts and new faith.”

I hope one day to visit the Basque land.

 

Monday Movies: “The Great Zambini” by Igor Legarreta and Emilio Pérez

“The Great Zambini is a story that has a touch of sadness but, in the end, we can see some hope in the relationship between father and son.” Emilio Pérez

 

Situated in the middle of the desert, in an almost lunar landscape, a rickety roulette serves as home for a family that lives among the abandoned remains of an old circus. The son (Aníbal Tártalo) is ashamed of the father (Emilio Gavira) because he is a dwarf, and suffers the mockery of the other children. One day the father observes his son`s fascination with an image of the man stepping on the moon for the first time on television. He designs a plan to win his son`s admiration. The difficult relations between the central characters are articulated through their expressive looks that rarely cross, but perfectly condense the emotions that live within each one of them: the son`s shame, the father’s pain, and the mother’s sadness (Esperanza de la Vega), who is torn between the two.

One day the father is waiting for his son at the exit of the school and notices that, in front of him, a little girl is holding on to her mother`s hand, and watches him fixedly. The dwarf man winks, provoking a timid smile from the little one. His own son, however, is incapable of showing any sign of love for his father. He hides in the bathroom until the rest of the students leave because he is ashamed of showing with his dwarf father in public.

The father doesn`t tolerate his disrespect and punishes him by not allowing him to have dinner. The mother, however, who divides her love and understanding between them, brings him a sandwich to the canon, where the child once again hides from his father. The father observes the scene from the door of the mobile home and understands that he must do something in order to recover the love of his son. At this very moment, a fabulous plan is born, and magic erupts into the story, evoking with the magic of the old circus. Zambini relocates and re-furbishes the canon that, until then, served as the hiding place of the embarrassed child. With exquisite subtleness and narrative economy, the filmmakers reveal the father`s plan: resuscitate the old days in the circus, once again light the fuse of the marvelous scene where children`s hopes and dreams become reality, and thus replace the child`s embarrassment with fascination and admiration for his father.

Monday Movies presents Basque short films and contemporary filmmakers. The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the CBS`s upcoming book publication Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema.

Click on the link below to watch the film. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

The William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies 50th Anniversary

Photo credit: Josu Zubizarreta

During the darkest days, when we were denied our language, our culture and our identity, we were consoled by the knowledge that an American university in Nevada had lit one small candle in the night.

-Lehendakari Jose Antonio Ardanza, March 1988

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

Last week, on November 8, the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary with CBS faculty, students, and staff as well as countless members of the Basque community and supporters of the Center. Held at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library, the space was packed quickly. There was food and drink and a wonderful atmosphere. People reconnected with old friends and new ones at the lively event. Here’s some background on the CBS ‘s History and Mission:

History

Originally called the Basque Studies Program, the Center was created in 1967 as part of the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno. At that time, the DRI was creating new programs to reach various aspects of the Great Basin’s inhabitants and history. The idea for studying the Basques was proposed since Basque-Americans have long formed a prominent minortiy in the region and have contributed a great deal to its development. Bill Douglass served as the Program’s director from 1967-1999, when he retired to become Professor Emeritus in Basque Studies. The Basque Studies Program was renamed the Center for Basque Studies as a result of a program review conducted in 1999.

CBS Mission

The primary mission of the CBS is to conceive, facilitate, conduct, and disseminate the results of interdisciplinary research on the Basques to a local, regional, national, and internation audience, and by extension to draw attention to the human experience of small ethnic groups. The Center seeks to maintain excellence in all its endeavors and to achieve its goals through high quality research, publications, conferences, active involvement in scholarly networks throughout the world, as well as through service and teaching.

Channel 2 News was present and recorded a short news video on the event, available online. In it, they interview Xabier Irujo, the CBS director, and Dr. Sandy Ott, one of our professors. The video definitely captures the mood of the event.

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

President Johnson of UNR was given the word first, and he spoke of the history of the CBS and its impact on the UNR campus. He has taken a few trips to the Basque Country with the advisory council and genuinely enjoys our culture! Next up came William A. Douglass, our namesake and one of the founders of the CBS, as well as a pioneering researcher on Basques in the U.S. Douglass reflected on the center’s history and his own place within it. Dr. Irujo then spoke about both the CBS and Basque Studies in a global context, providing jokes and anecdotes. We were then honored by Jesus Goñi’s bertsoak celebrating the Center’s place in Basque history.

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

Photo Credit: Gemma Martín Valdanzo

Overall, it was a great event that gathered so many voices from the Basque community and academia. To 50 more years of the CBS!

 

 

 

 

 

Older posts