The latest addition to my website is Kirmen Uribe‘s Bilbao-New York-Bilbao (Bilbao-New York-Bilbao). This is a Basque novel, which is not really a novel and is not really about travel between Bilbao and New York. Uribe describes his efforts to write a novel about his grandfather, a fisherman, the Basque painter, Aurelio Arteta and Arteta’s friend, the Basque architect, Ricardo Bastida. We jump around between those three, Uribe’s own life, his contact with writers from minority cultures, his family, his travels by plane (comparing it to Bastida’s son’s transatlantic crossing by ship) and Basque culture and life. He tells lots of amusing and informative stories and ends up with this book, which is, more or less, the novel he always meant to write, a novel about real people, rather than fictitious ones.
The latest addition to my website is Fernando Aramburu‘s Patria (Homeland). This book has been hugely successful in Spain and has been translated into several languages and will appear in English in March 2019. It tells the story of two Basque families. In one, the father, Txato, is murdered by ETA, the Basque separatist group as he does not pay the revolutionary tax, a contribution demanded by the ETA from Basque businesses. The other family, initially close friends with the first, have a son, Joxi Mari, who becomes an ETA killer and who may or may not have killed Txato. We follow the lives of all the members of the two families – two children in the first case, three in the second – and their lives both before and after the murder of Txato, including Joxe Mari’s time in prison (a sentence of 126 years). Aramburu is clearly more sympathetic to the victims, particularly, Txato’s widow, Bittori, but understands even if he does not agree with the ETA side and their supporters. Aramburu tells a first-class story about what it means to be Basque during the ETA era and how it affected all sides.