Tag: Iban Zaldua

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

Basques in the News

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Donibane Garazi, in Iparralde, recently featured in the New York Times travel section, is among the subjects of recent articles appearing in major outlets on the Basques.

Three articles were recently published on Basque topics in American and British online media.

On May 25, as part of H.D. Miller’s Eccentric Culinary History, there was a charming article titled “Basque-American: The Authentic Cuisine of the Intermountain West.”  Actually, this is far more than just a culinary guide, and Miller offers a fine summary of both Basque and Basque-American history, before getting to the all-important focus of the article: food, and in particular specific reports on several Basque restaurants in the American West.

For a wonderfully evocative history of the Basque boardinghouses that were the bases for today’s restaurants, see Home Away from Home: A History of Basque Boardinghouses by Jeronima Echeverria.

 

Meanwhile, on May 30, the Independent included a report by Alasdair Fotheringham on the shooting of a new movie titled Gernika, directed by Koldo Serra. The movie, filmed in English, seeks to portray the events associated with the bombing of Gernika, Bizkaia, in April 1937, and has an international cast.

Click here to read the article.  For more information about the movie, click here.

The Center’s professor Xabier Irujo has written extensively on the bombing of Gernika in Spanish, especially his El Gernika de Richthofen, read more about it (in Spanish) here. In English, readers might be interested in his history of the exile government of Agirre in Expelled from the Motherland. The Spanish Civil War is looked at from a dazzling variety of perspectives in our wide-ranging collection of short stories Our Wars: Short Fiction on Basque Conflicts. There are stories on the Civil War from Bernardo Atxaga, Ramon Saizarbitoria, Iban Zaldua, and Inazio Mujika Iraola!

 

Finally, on June 5, in an article for the Travel Section of the New York Times, Christian L. Wright offered an extensive travel guide to Iparralde or the Northern Basque Country.  According to Wright, “In recent years, a younger generation has emerged, opening design shops, rejiggering the food scene and sprucing up classic red-and-white farmhouses that dot the countryside.”

Read the full article here.

The specific case of identity in the Northern Basque Country, which is touched on in the New York Times piece, is addressed by Igor Ahedo Gurrutxaga in his ambitious survey of changing attitudes during the last two hundred years: The Transformation of National Identity in the Basque Country of France, 1789-2006. On a lighter note, Iparralde is also the subject of Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees, our beautiful children’s book by Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton