Category: CBS books (page 1 of 11)

Basque Books Round-Up 2018

It has been another busy and exciting year for Basque publishing! The year started out with our attendance at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Our booth there was very well-attended and we launched local Elko author Gretchen Skivington’s novel (a past winner of our Basque writing contest) Echevarria. In addition to selling the book at our booth, we also hosted an event at which the work of Joan Errea was read by your Basque books editor, Florence Frye read from her stories about growing up in Gerlach, David Romtvedt read from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space, and Gretchen presented from her new book as well. The spring continued with the publication of our director Xabier Irujo’s short history on the bombing of Gernika, The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History. The publication was celebrated in Winnemucca in conjunction with the Basque festival and NABO convention held there with another booth and with a wonderful dance performance about the bombing of Gernika by Lamoille, Nevada dancers Ardi Baltza. Ardi Baltza continued presenting the dance and the book at events in Gooding, Idaho, and Elko, Nevada, among other places.

It was with great pleasure this year that we published At Midnight by the late Javier Arzuaga. This tremendously interesting story recounts the experiences of a young Basque priest counseling to condemned prisoners in the aftermath of the 1950s Cuban revolution. It is a tremendously powerful story about doubt, faith, human kindness, and the confrontation with the eternity. In a masterful translation by Cameron J. Watson, this book is a must read!

Bertsolaritza has also been a theme of the year, with Basque bertsolariak also attending the Elko Poetry Gathering and a book forthcoming with shared articles on the oral poetry form and the experience of poetry in the Western United States. In addition, we published World Improvised Verse Singing, edited by Xabier Irujo, a collection of articles on improvised and other oral poetries from around the world.

The tenor changed with our next publication, Stories of Basque Mythology for Children, by Bakarne Atxukarro, Izaskun Zubialde, and illustrated by Asun Egurza. This delightfully and colorfully illustrated children’s book runs the gamut of classical Basque mythological tales, all translated by students from the USAC program in Donostia-San Sebastián.

In addition, a collection of article based on the conference that was held in Iceland regarding the massacre of Basque whalers there hundreds of years ago was presented, Jon Gudmundsson Laedi’s True Account and the Massacre of Basque Whalers in Iceland in 1615, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio. The story not only talks about the Basque whalers, however, but also the Icelanders, including especially Jon Gudmundsson Laedi, who rejected their countrymen’s violence and sought to present the truth about the events far out in the Atlantic. And it will continue to be a busy fall, with the current launch of a new kind of book for us, Meggan Laxalt Mackey’s, Lekuak: The Basque Places of Boise, Idaho, this richly illustrated book tells the story of Basques in Boise from their roots in trans-Atlantic migration and the sheepherding industries to their modern contributions to the city of Boise and the state of Idaho, an influence that will continue to be felt deeply into the future. And in production is the next installment of the Basques in the United States, with many more names added; Asun Garikano’s Kaliforniakoak, a history of Basques in California; a collection of articles on German and Nazi influence in the Basque Country and Catalonia during the Civil War and World War II, and our classic, the first English translation of the diaries of the first Basque lehendakari, Jose Antonio Agirre, in a richly annotated edition, and much more.

             

Agur Dan! Eskerrik asko eta ondo ibili!

It is with great sadness for us at the CBS that our book productions editor, Dan Montero has decided to leave and “seek new challenges,” as he put it. Today is his last day of work. Many thanks, Dan, for the wonderful books you produced, and for being a great friend and colleague!

Dan has served as publications editor for the Center for Basque Studies since August, 2009, during which time he has managed the publication of books on many Basque topics. He sat down and recalled some of his favorites, “there can’t be any single story like that of Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees, it is a publisher’s dream. The manuscript, written by local artist and Basque Mary Jean Etcheberry, was brought to us by her grandnieces as a carbon copy of a typed manuscript that had been passed down through the family. Artwork on original blocks. And a story that grabbed me as soon as I sat down to read it, it is a really beautiful book and I feel so lucky that I got to work on it.”

Another exceptional story that he recalls particularly fondly is that of Winnemucca, Nevada author, Joan Errea, and her tremendous memoirs about her mother and father, My Mama Marie and A Man Called Aita. Joan had published the books in spiral notebooks, with drawings by Bert Paris, but it was her daughter, Lianne Iroz, who brought them in to the Center. “I’ve particularly loved the homegrown books about the West we’ve done,” he recalls, “especially My Mama Marie, I can almost imagine Marie stepping down from the train and being spoken to in Basque by her future husband, Arnaud Paris. And knowing the place where it happened makes it all that much more meaningful.”

When asked about the specific challenges that he has enjoyed about publishing Basque books, he answers, “in general, it has been a pleasure to work in a place that takes on so many and so many complex translations, from Basque usually, but also Spanish, French, and even German!”This was the case with the publication of The Selected Writings of Alexander von Humboldt for the Basque Classics Series. “Translations were especially hard because I don’t have much Basque, but I had the masterful editing of Cameron J. Watson. Without him many of our books would not have been possible, he is a true scholar in the best meaning of the word and I will miss working with him and our weekly Skype meetings!”

Other highlights he recalls fondly are sales trips he made the Durango Azoka, for him “a deeply meaningful cultural event that I was blessed to be a part of, and to meet so many great Basques at our booth.” And a trip to Buffalo, Wyoming, for the NABO Convention, “it’s an incredible part of the world,” he says, “and it means even more to me because, even though I had never been there, I imagined it and held it dear due to working on Buffalotarrak and Zelestina Urza in Outer Spaceby David Romtvedt, a truly special novel.”

He also would like to thank all of the visitors, grad students, and friends who have spent time at the Center; professors Xabier Irujo, Sandra Ott, Joseba Zulaika, Mariann Vaczi, and professor emeritus Bill Douglass, for their dedication to research on Basque culture; and all of the student assistants who have helped him through the years, especially Kim Jo Daggett, Joannes Zulaika, Ezti Villanueva, Meg Montero, and Carly Sauvageau. He has a special thanks for Kate Camino, for being a great coworker and friend, and for “holding the place together.” He adds, “I give my most heartfelt thanks to all those people who have picked up and read one of the Basque books I’ve had the absolute honor of working on while I have been here. I love books more than just about anything, and without readers there are no books. So mila eskerto our readers!”

We wish you all the best, and hope to see you around sometime! Agur Dan, eskerrik asko eta ondo ibili!

                         

 

 

At Midnight: Book Review by William A. Douglass

A few years ago I was co-organizer in Havana of a conference that eventuated in the publication of the book entitled Basques in Cuba (2016).  My collaborator was a famed political exile and extraordinary figure in Basque letters, Joseba Sarrionandia. In addition to our conference we were working on an English-language translation of his poetry. That anthology is now completed and should be published within the next several months (our working title is “Prisons and Exiles”). But that is another story.

Joseba insisted at the time that I consider arranging for English translation and publication by the Center for Basque Studies a book entitled A medianoche by a Basque former priest Javier Arzuaga. I read it as a favor and was dumbfounded. Arzuaga was the priest of the parish that included La Cabaña fortress, presided over by Che and the site of show trials, brief imprisonment and then execution of certain officials in the army and government of Fulgencio Batista. For the first four months of the process, Arzuaga was permitted to accompany condemned men for the few hours before their extermination. He was present at fifty-five executions before suffering a nervous breakdown.

Arzuaga describes his encounters with Che and Fidel, as well as his own evolution as a supporter of the revolution to critic of it. He provides extraordinary human profiles of the revolutionary officials conducting the proceedings, as well as of several of the condemned men. Particularly riveting was his internal crisis of conscience, since Arzuaga had become estranged from the Catholic hierarchy (he eventually left the priesthood) and doubted the very message of redemption and an afterlife that he employed to console the doomed men.

As a 78-year-old writer in the twilight of a lengthy career, I cannot begin to estimate how many books I have read—certainly thousands. Yet I can say that none has been more disturbing or memorable than At Midnight.

Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika

Ardi Baltza Kontalari

The William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies invites you to Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika on November 2, 2018 at 7 p.m. in the UNR Wells Fargo Auditorium (MIKC 124). In this performance by the Lamoille, NV based Basque dancing group, Ardi Baltza Kontalari, the eyewitness accounts of the survivors of the tragic Nazi bombings on Gernika in 1937 are presented and honored. Through their lyrical and contemporary dance styles, mixed with traditional Basque steps, the dancers demonstrate the strength and resilience of the Basque people in the face of adversity.

Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika at the 2018 NABO Convention

This performance will also feature a short introductory talk by Dr. Xabier Irujo, professor at the Center for Basque Studies and author of The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History, on the events leading up to the bombing. Free admission.

To learn more about the Ardi Baltza Kontalari, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ardibaltza/

For information on Dr. Irujo’s book, a companion to this performance, visit: https://basquebooks.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-bombing-of-gernika-a-short-history

Getting to Know Basque Books: Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors by Maite Gonzalez Esnal is a beautifully written book about the life experiences of Esnal, all under the three themes; her journeys as an adult linguist, the fruits she associates with her school days (figs and pomegranates) and the neighbors of her childhood home growing up in the Basque country during Franco’s dictatorship. 

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors  is one of my favorites of the books we publish here at the Center for Basque Studies Press for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it is written so well, at times it feels as though you are reading poetry, you can see how red the pomegranate juice is, you can smell the coffee the Good Samaritan gives her. There are quotes that cut deeply and explain emotion and memory in a way only fantastic writing can. I was talking to the editor here, Daniel Montero, last week about how the author not only wrote this novel, but did her own translations from Basque to English, and I was amazed. To be this gifted at writing, not only in your native language but to be able to translate it into another language and have such beautiful, almost surreal imagery translate, was an unimaginable talent to me.

Maite Gonzalez Esnal; to read more about the publication of Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors, click here: https://bit.ly/2M03wXc

Maite Gonzalez Esnal; to read more about the publication of Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors, click here: https://bit.ly/2M03wXc

This novel, aside from the beauty of it, is also an incredibly interesting story, my favorite being the “neighbors” section of it. It is so heart-breaking, yet innocent, since Esnal wrote it from her experiences as a child, she hints towards tragedy in a way that makes it even more devastating than if she had blatantly said it. Despite the tragedy in the last section, there is a comforting glimmer of hope at the end of the book. The other sections are also great, the “journeys” section being a incredibly detailed travel journal and the “fruits” section being a bit more of a short story collection. It is hard to put this book in a box, which makes it even better. From anyone who liked Eat, Pray, Love to The Book Thief, this book has something for anyone.

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

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