Atxaga scoops literary prize with "first great Basque novel"

24th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Accordionist's Son, by the Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga, has won the Grinzane Cavour award for best foreign-language book.

24 January 2008

MADRID - The Accordionist's Son, by the Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga, has won the Grinzane Cavour award for best foreign-language book, organisers of the literary prize announced yesterday.

The Italian awards, which have been handed out in the Piamonte region each year since 1982, have picked out many writers who later went on to win the Nobel Prize, such as Nadine Gordimer, Günter Grass, Orhan Pamuk and Doris Lessing.

Atxaga will also compete for the title of absolute winner of the Grinzane Cavour against Germany's Ingo Schulze and his novel Neue Leben (New Lives) and Russia's Ludmila Ulitskaya, who wrote Sincerely Yours, Shúrik.

Atxaga, who was born in the small town of Asteasu in 1951 (his real name is Joseba Irazu Garmendia), often writes in Basque, although his work is generally translated into Spanish. His 1988 collection of short stories, Obabakoak, earned him the National Literature Award and was translated into 20 languages. In 2005, it was made into a movie by director Montxo Armendáriz.

The Accordionist's Son, published in 2004, follows a friendship from 1936 to 1999, with the Basque Country's turbulent history as a backdrop. The book has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as "the first great Basque novel."

Atxaga, who has worked as an economist, bookseller, language teacher, publisher and radio scriptwriter, follows a long line of Spanish writers who have won the Grinzane Cavour, including Rosa Montero, Fernando Savater, Javier Cercas, Javier Marías and Manuel Vázquez-Montalbán.

[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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