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Obabakoak Paperback – 16 Sep 1993
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"A fine, shimmering, mercurial novel" (Observer)
"A brilliantly inventive writer...He understands the nature of story telling and is at once terribly moving and wildly funny" (A. S. Byatt)
"An impressive intellectual achievement" (New Statesman)
"Atxaga holds the attention by his sheer craft, by the complete control he exhibits" (Independent)
"This English version beautifully retains Mr. Atxaga's magically flowing and seemingly simple style... an achievement not made easy by his considerable technical and linguistic virtuosity and his love of inventing ways to make language itself speak with new voices" (New York Times Book Review) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A sprawling carnivalesque set in an eccentric village, this is a wildly unusual novel, originally written in Basque, from one of the most exciting talents in contemporary European literature. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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OBABAKOAK is above all a paean to literature---life is nothing but a collection of stories, and stories can only reflect life. We may be born in small towns like Obaba with definite character, but when we depart to swim in wider seas, we lose the ability to go back, all the old mysteries of childhood remain just that, though we may try to unravel them from remote distances in time. Nothing is what it seems, though everything is, as in a dream, quite familiar. We turn to stories then, trying to explain life and loss to ourselves. That lizard of longing penetrates our brains. Perhaps we may even go crazy if we persist. Myths and superstitions loom large. We must give up the search for truth even if the desire to continue remains. OBABAKOAK means "the things having to do with Obaba village" and so, I supposed, it would be a novel about life or lives in a Basque village. Wrong ! While Obaba does play some role, the tales are far more wideranging---in time, subject and place---the Amazon, Hamburg, 9th century France, Baghdad, the Himalayas, some mythical Chinese cit, plagiarism, sex changes, murder, and escape. Nobody can escape their fate. Atxaga is intoxicated by literature, by the art of the story. His characters are both fictional and fictional-within-fiction. I often felt that the book had dissolved into a collection of diffuse stories with few connections. While most of the stories were indeed engrossing, some magical, some clever, some sharply didactic, I wondered why they belonged together. A couple characters from within the stories told did emerge into the overall story---that Chinese ball effect again---but many did not. Atxaga writes with a dry humor and a certain irreverence which I liked very much, but if there were literary allusions, I have to concede that I could not pick them up. The novel may fascinate you for some hours, but in the end, you may find yourself puzzled. They say that even the devil couldn't learn Basque. Maybe he couldn't really understand OBABAKOAK either.