James Barayasarra has won second prize in the 2018 Basque Literary Contest for his manuscript “Seven Wagons and a Half”, a hilarious and touching tale about growing up as the middle child of Basque immigrants Nemesio and Victorina Barayasarra.
“…[M]y parents did not have a high level of education, they were self-taught, were proud of their Basque heritage and American citizenship. They experienced many hardships, including poverty and discrimination, and yet they survived. It was tough, but I wouldn’t trade any of the events for all the towers in the world. I mean we were poor, discriminated against, but we made it through and I can live to tell about it. I have taught my offspring about my heritage and hope they will appreciate their Basque heritage and sacrifices of immigrants like Nemesio & Victorina Barayasarra,” Barayasarra said when asked about his inspiration for “Seven Wagons and a Half”, “The story is about the attempt to record the contributions of an immigrant family, such as Nemesio & Victorina. Even though they had challenges and struggled at times, they survived the hardest times. It is about appreciation of their hard work and to honor them for their sacrifices.”
Since his teaching days at high school level in Idaho and Nevada, teaching as well at SUNY Alfred State and Chesapeake College, having received a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Master’s of Education from the College of Idaho, as well as a Masters in Natural Sciences from the University of Idaho; and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Biology from Saint Bonaventure University, Barayasarra has “ taken approximately 40 hours of theatre, creative writing, and art…[and has] 9 unpublished work plays, one that has been performed on stage, thank you very much”.