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Bernardo Atxaga (Joseba Irazu Garmendia, b. 1951) is an award-winning Basque writer, whose work spans adult and children's prose, poetry, radio, cinema and theatre, as well as short stories. He first achieved national and international fame with Obabakoak (1988), which won the National Literature Prize 1989 and has been translated into more than twenty languages. His novels have won critical acclaim in Spain and abroad; most recently, Margaret Jull Costa's translation of Seven Houses in France was shortlisted for the 2012 Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize.
Winner of the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation, awarded biennially since 1996, was founded to celebrate the best translation of a children’s book from a foreign language into English and published in the UK. It aims to spotlight the high quality and diversity of translated fiction for young readers. | Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. Shola is surely one of the most irresistible characters in children’s books! The outside world sees a small, white dog but Shola thinks she is much more than that, nothing less than a highly cultivated creature, with the world at her feet. Her long-suffering companion (don’t ever call him her owner) Senor Grogo puts up with this very patiently, for the most part anyway: Shola’s refusal to admit to any mistake occasionally, and understandably, provokes an outburst! The mismatch between Shola’s staunch self-belief and reality produce all sorts of comic situations in the four different stories contained in this volume. Everyone will have their favourite Shola moment – maybe when she decides she’s really a lion, or when she leads a pack of hunting dogs after wild boar in the mistaken belief that boar are just like sheep, only bigger. Her delight in language entertains too, there’s nothing she likes more than using words like ‘obligation’ or ‘discombobulate’. Thoroughly charming, Shola deserves to be much better known.
Nevada Days is a fictionalised account of Atxaga's nine months' stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. He is accompanied by his wife, Angela, who is also doing research there, and by their two daughters. During their first few weeks, the family encounter a strange mapache (racoon), which is always staring at them from the garden, a flight of helicopters immediately overhead, a black widow spider, a warning about bears, a party of prisoners in the desert, a lake that is somehow far too calm and too blue, and, not long into their stay, the kidnap and murder of a young girl living in the house right next door. Atxaga tells us about all these strange encounters, and about his colleagues at the university, about the trips the family make to California and across the Sierra Nevada and to Lake Tahoe, but this narrative is also interspersed with accounts of his dreams, with stories from his past. Nevada Days seductively weaves together past and present, and shows us how deeply marked we are by experience and history and relationships, however fleeting or enduring, and reminds us what a very strange thing life is. Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
Obabakoak ist der Roman des Fabulierens, in dem das Fantastische real und das Reale fantastisch wird und alle Geschichten im Grunde vom Geschichtenerzahlen handeln. Der fiktive Ort Obaba wird zu einem geradezu mythischen Ort universeller Bedeutung und bleibt doch eine in den baskischen Bergen verlorene Kleinstadt. Mit einem spielerischen Blick, der von Deutschland uber Bagdad bis zum Amazonas, von Borges uber Calvino bis Queneau reicht, zaubert Atxaga einen skurrilen Kosmos hervor, verfremdet und parodiert, spielt genussvoll mit Worten, Satzen und Sinnen. Mit Obabakoak hat er der baskischen Sprache ihren Platz in der Weltliteratur erobert.
Carlos, der ehemalige Anfuhrer einer militanten Gruppe, fuhrt mit Freunden ein Hotel bei Barcelona, in dem die polnische Mannschaft wahrend der Fuballweltmeisterschaft in Spanien 1982 wohnt. Ohne Wissen seiner Freunde versteckt er zwei Untergrundkampfer - in Erinnerung an seine eigene aktive Zeit. Doch im Hotel ist auch ein Verrater. Der Kreis von Polizisten zieht sich immer enger, die Bewachung der Polen wird zu einer Belagerung. Wie soll Carlos seiner Vergangenheit entfliehen und die Zukunft leben? Inmitten der Stimmen von Lebenden und Toten setzt er seine Existenz aufs Spiel, als handle es sich um ein unabwendbares Schicksal.
Two Basque gunmen on the run after a bomb attack find refuge in a hotel whose owner, Carlos, used to belong to their movement. With the World Cup in progress, the Polish football team is staying in the hotel. A television crew is infiltrated by undercover agents.
Irene is 37 years old and just out of prison after serving time for terrorist activities. Deciding to return home to Bilbao, she takes a bus journey across Spain, striking up conversations with the passengers who include two plainclothes policemen. As the journey progresses, so the tension builds.
The Accordionist's Son is a remarkably powerful and accomplished novel, exploring the life of David Imaz, a former inhabitant of the Basque village of Obaba, now living in exile and ill-health on a ranch in California. As a young man, David divides his time between his uncle's ranch and his life in the village, where he reluctantly practises the accordion on the insistence of his authoritarian father. Increasingly aware of the long shadow cast by the Spanish Civil War, he begins to unravel the story of the conflict, his father's association with the fascists and his uncle's opposition and brave decision to hide a wanted republican. Caught betweeen the two men, the course of his own life is changed forever when he agrees to shelter a group of students on the run from the military police. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
One of only a hundred or so books originally written in the Basque language during the last four centuries, Obabakoak is a shimmering, mercurial novel about life in Obaba, a remote, exotic, Basque village. Obaba is peopled with innocents and intellectuals, shepherds and schoolchildren, whilst everyone from a lovelorn schoolmistress to a cultured but self-hating dwarf wanders across the page. Obabakoak is a dazzling collage of stories, town gossip, diary excerpts and literary theory, all held together by Atxaga's distinctive and tenderly ironic voice.
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