Bilbao – New York – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe

Bilbao – New York – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe

Spanish Basque fiction

Original title – Bilbao – New York – Bilbao

Translator – Elizabeth Macklin

Source – Review copy

I wish I was a fisherman
Tumblin’ on the seas
Far away from dry land
And its bitter memories
Casting out my sweet line
With abandonment and love
No ceiling bearin’ down on me
Save the starry sky above
With light in my head
You in my arms
Woo!

Well it could only be the song Fishermen blues another hymn to being a fisherman from The Waterboys -source

Well I originally set out to write this review a month and half ago and then saw the book wasn’t out yet , it was a book i read and just wanted to write about and even after a month I still feel the same .This novel was a real event when it came out in spain as Kirmen Uribe is seen as one of the brightest stars in Spanish/Basque writing .He grew up in a small fishing village an hour from Bilbao ,his father was a trawlerman , Kirmen started out as a poet and has done spoken word performances to music in the past ,this novel was his debut novel and won the Spanish literature prize in 2009

Fish are always growing .Not us , we start shrinking once we’ve reach maturity .Our growth stops  and our bones begin to knit together .The person shrivels up .Fish , though grow until they die .Faster when they’re young , and as the years go on more slowly ,but fish always go on growing

The world of the fishing village is like men grow n and now shrinking , unlike the fish they catch

So Bilbao – New York -Bilbao , is a novel that to me as a reader was like getting really into the head of a writer for the first time , the plot follows Kirmen Uribe as he takes a flight from Bilbao to New York , whilst on this flight we see Kirmen drift into his own world ,his families world , he is in the middle of writing a novel about three generations of a fishing family , the family in the book is his own family from his grandfather to his father , uncles  and their years as trawlermen , the folklore of being a fishermen , his own life , the progress of the flight .

A monster , a monster that roars .In the old Irish legends Rockhall island is called Rocabarragh .The rock that roars according to Celtic tradition , the third time the rock comes to light ,it is said , the end of the world will be at hand .It’s visible only in the summer , in winter the waves cover it ,until they’ve hidden it completely

I love the small snippets of fishermen folklore we see in this book .

Well that is all I’m giving you plot wise  on this  book as I feel it is one you really  have to discover yourself  .For me this book is almost in words, the working of the inner mind of a writer we see how Kirmen could have used all  that is in this book , the  memories ,folklore and dairies  to write another  novel ,an interesting novel within a novel or is the novel he was writing in the book I  am reading the book ? or is it another book at some  later point I as a reader will meet from him  .Is the kIrmen Uribe  in the book the KirmenUribe that wrote book ? What we see in the book is a real hymn to a dying world the world of his father and uncles ,the dying world of small trawler men in the Basque region .The world he writes about reminded me of the people I knew in the small fishing port where I worked twenty years ago .The world isn’t just dying the people in the world are looking beyond the boats , but also looking back at the boats ,as the world of small boats supporting families giving them a living is dying out as this sort of fishing is being driven out by bigger boats with smaller crews and thus less work in the small communities around the ports where these boats were based , this is the world we see in Kirmen’s book is  not quite gone but disappearing quickly .Th e other thing that comes across in the book is the sea , fishermens respect for the sea ,the folklore they build around the sea ,man being drawn to the challenges of the sea-going in boats round places like St Kildas ,were the world comes down to man against nature so much and although he is flying over this world maybe trying to escape it he in his own way as a writer is still drawn to this world , as thou you can’t escape the shadow of ones own past .I’ve not read any book that has touched me in  so may ways such as this book has , having  lived around fishermen for a few years and also spent a lot of my youth around the small fishing ports of the East Neuk in fife , spending my summers with my gran doing the fishing boat trail learning about the fishermen and their lives ,I admire Kirmen’s longing for this world at times .Kirmen Uribe cast his own net not a real net no a net of ones mind a drag up memories poetry and a truly unique book for us as a reader , I hope Seren discoveries the publisher publishes his other novel ,either that or I may have to teach myself Spanish to read it .

What was the last book that left you totally knocked back ?

 

 

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 14:43:07

    Oddly enough, “Look Who’s Back” has rather got under my skin, in a very worrying way – it’s quite a book!

    Reply

  2. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 18:13:27

    High praise indeed, how wonderful to read a book that invokes memories of your own experiences, it sounds like a truly unique read, one of those gems uncovered in literary translation, thanks for putting the light under this bushel Stu!

    Reply

  3. Seamus Duggan
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 21:50:19

    I have to watch out for this. Sounds great. I’ve been reading and re-reading the work of Dermot Healy who worked as a fisherman as did many characters in his books. Indeed A Goat’s Song has a ‘hero’ who is both fisherman and writer. I found it just as powerful as I did then I read it first, back in the last century.

    Reply

  4. naomifrisby
    Oct 08, 2014 @ 09:02:23

    This sounds like a book I’d love. Great review, Stu. The last book that totally knocked me back was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; it changed my world view.

    Reply

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