Obabakoak: Stories from a Village

Overview

"A brilliantly inventive writer ... he understands the nature of storytelling and is at once terribly moving and wildy funny."—A.S. Byatt

Obabakoak is a shimmering, mercurial collection about life in Obaba, a remote, exotic Basque village. A schoolboy’s miningengineer father tricks him into growing up, an unfortunate environmentalist rescues deceptively harmless lizards, and a rescue mission on a Swiss mountain-climbing expedition in Nepal turns into murder. Obaba is peopled ...

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Obabakoak: Stories from a Village

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Overview

"A brilliantly inventive writer ... he understands the nature of storytelling and is at once terribly moving and wildy funny."—A.S. Byatt

Obabakoak is a shimmering, mercurial collection about life in Obaba, a remote, exotic Basque village. A schoolboy’s miningengineer father tricks him into growing up, an unfortunate environmentalist rescues deceptively harmless lizards, and a rescue mission on a Swiss mountain-climbing expedition in Nepal turns into murder. Obaba is peopled with innocents and intellectuals, shepherds and schoolchildren, while everyone from a lovelorn schoolmistress to a cultured but self-hating dwarf wanders across the page. Hints of darker undercurrents mingle with moments of wry humor in this dazzling collage of stories, town gossip, diary excerpts, and literary theory, all held together by Bernardo Atxaga’s distinctive and tenderly ironic voice. An unforgettable work from an international literary giant, whom The Observer (London) listed among the top twenty-one writers of the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this collection, named for the Basque village of Obaba, acclaimed novelist/poet Atxaga (The Accordionist's Son) presents stories of his neighbors at home and in their travels. (Atxaga translated this work from Basque to Spanish, while Costa translated from Spanish to English.) The major part of the collection deals with a literary gathering at the home of the "uncle from Montevideo," who hosts friends monthly for a bout of drinking and storytelling. The stories themselves are presented here, with the activities of the participants seen in alternate chapters. One of the storytellers theorizes that "a story amounts to nothing more than a simple arithmetical operation. Not an operation involving numbers, of course, but one based on the addition and subtraction of elements such as love, hate, hope, desire, honor, and other such things." What's added here is usually time and reflection, as many of the stories go back to childhood, as viewed through wiser and more experienced eyes. VERDICT The reader whose adventures come mainly through the printed page will welcome this collection, set mostly in Basque Spain, though there are occasional forays into other locales such as Germany and the Amazon. Recommended for short story and world literature readers.—Debbie Bogenshutz, Johnnie Mae Berry Lib., Cincinatti, OH
The Barnes & Noble Review

From Paul Di Filippo's "SMALL PRESS SPOTLIGHT" column on Barnes & Noble Review

In the realm of the small presses, thirty-six years amounts to a geological era. To survive and flourish for nearly four decades is a proud accomplishment that is denied all but a few firms. Examples of contemporary indie publishers still vibrant at the outer edge of small press longevity include City Lights (founded 1953), Burning Deck (founded 1961), and Fiction Collective/FC2 (founded 1973). Just a tad younger than the youngest in that list comes Graywolf Press, established in 1974 by Scott Walker.

A non-profit since the middle of the nineteen-eighties, Graywolf has made its sterling reputation in the realm of fiction, poetry, memoirs and literary criticism. Their available backlist constitutes nearly three hundred titles spread across a wide range of styles and themes, and they regularly issue upwards of twenty new books per year. Partnered in various ventures with the College of Saint Benedict, enjoying a solid base in the nation's three-wolf-moon heartland of Minnesota, Graywolf has proven that quality endures.

Finally, Graywolf brings back into print in a preferred translation (by Margaret Jull Costa) a classic of Basque fiction, Bernardo Atxaga's Obabakoak. Nobly withstanding inevitable comparisons to the work of Latin American Magical Realists, Obabakoak chronicles an antique yet timeless village landscape, where a runaway orphan can be transmogrified into a white boar, and a small lizard, inserted into a child's ear, can warp a life. But the book exudes its own charmingly Old World ambiance distinct from the raw youthful frontier stylings of GarciaMÃrquez and others from that hemisphere. The section titled "In Search of the Last Word" is a Calvinoesque collage of intertwining stories rich with references to the great literatures of the world. Atxaga is heir to Kafka and E. T. A. Hoffmann, proudly embracing his European blood.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555975517
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 3/2/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 977,837
  • Product dimensions: 9.04 (w) x 6.02 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernardo Atxaga was born in Gipuzkoa, Spain, in 1951 and lives in the Basque Country, writing in Basque and Spanish. He is a prizewinning novelist and poet whose books include The Accordionist’s Son, The Lone Man, and The Lone Woman.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 13, 2010

    Great Read!

    This is a wonderful book of short stories. Obviously with any book of short stories not everyone can be your favorite but these were all good stories. Some long and some short to make for interesting reading. I'm not familiar with the area that is suppose to be described but I found it interesting.

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