Fernando Aramburu

I’m excited, because this is the first post I write from my IPad. Which, I love, by the way, although I vow to never use it for reading. Nothing will substitute the feel and smell of paper, of the fabric that binds it, of the leather of old books. But I’m not here to discuss books vs digital books, but to talk about my favorite writer of the last year. He has been writing for a long time, but I just discovered him last Spring. Yes, it has taken me these many months to finish one of the two books by him that I have read. The other one was devoured during the summer. The name of the writer is Fernando Aramburu, and he is from my native Basque Country. I just finished today Viaje con Clara con Alemania, a road trip novel in which the main character, a Spaniard whom we only know by the nickname “ratón” (little mouse) that his German wife uses to address him, narrates a trip taken with her. The purpose of the trip is to obtain information for a road trip book that the wife, Clara, is writing. I assume that it’s unnecessary to mention the metanarrative aspect of the book within a book. I laughed with this novel. Loudly. It’s very ironic and a bit cynical, a pretty acid portrait of how Germans view foreigners and of marital relationships. The witty dialogues between husband and wife are at times hilarious. I highly recommend it, although I wouldn’t say it’s an easy read. Lighter in the literature, but way heavier in content, Los peces de la amargura is the short story book that I finished in a couple of days during the summer. I was very surprised to find a writer who deals openly with Basque terrorism, and dares to explore it from every angle. Julio Medem tried to do it a few years ago with La pelota vasca, a documentary that, in my opinion, fails to capture the real situation that we were living in the Basque Country. The documentary was a little bit naive and unrealistic, unlike the fictional stories crafted by Aramburu, which, despite their “unreal” nature, resonate way more with what life felt then and there, and gives you chills as you read some parts. Most stories are told from the victims side, but some others address the feelings of the terrorists, the killers and their guilt. It also describes in a chilling manner the impunity that they enjoyed, even being worshipped as heroes in their towns. No other author has written about these issues as openly and as freely as Aramburu has, trying to take into account all sides of the conflict, but without forgetting or forgiving for a second, without excusing criminal behaviors with political explanations. I will go back to him soon, but now, it’s time to move onto another writer. Ironically, this was one of the original purposes of this blog, writing about literature. Funny enough, I think this may be the first literary post. Hopefully others will follow soon. That will mean that the stage of motherhood in which you can’t read period has passed. Coming from a girl who used to read five books a week on graduate school, and is happy to read one every five months now, that tastes like a triumph.

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