Book Notes: Iban Zaldua’s The Homeland of all the Basques

Another Basque writer, as you already guessed from the title, and another novel that fucking blew my mind, folks. The fellow writes like he’s got a Shakespeare, a Milton, a Zola, a Galdós and a Dostoyevsky standing behind him in his literary tradition. But he doesn’t, and the whole novel is about him being very aware that he doesn’t. He writes like he’s got nothing to prove, and I’m loving it.

The novel’s protagonist is a professor of Basque philology who comes to Alaska to teach a course on the Basque culture. But Basque history is boring and the literature is non-existent, so he invents a history and a literature, taking a supreme piss out of the myths of the Basque nation-building. But the very fact that he can take the piss with such confidence and brilliance is the best proof that there is a fully viable nation there. I’m not explaining this very well because I just finished reading and I’m overcome with emotion. But this novel goes into my new book for sure.

The book has a Spanish translation but it won’t be as funny if you don’t know Basque history and literature.

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