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 ?

 

 

The colour of Dawn by Yanick Lahens

the colour of dawn

The colour of Dawn by Yanick Lahens

Haitian fiction

Original title –  La Couleur de l’aube

Translator – Alison Layland

Source – review copy

You better run You better run and run and run
You better run You better run
You better run to the City of Refuge
You better run You better run
You better run to the City of Refuge

You stand before your maker
In a state of shame
because your robes are covered in mud
While your kneel at the feet
Of a woman of the street
The gutters will run with blood
They will run with blood!

I thought this Nick Cave lyric caught the journey of the girls so well .source

 

 

Well I have only read one other book from Haiti on the blog ,that is the Alphabet of the night by Jean Euphele-Milche ,but that was over four years ago and I had always intend to try another from book from Haiti ,so when this dropped through the letter box from Seren with another book from their Seren discoveries series ,i was pleased as it also ties nicely into Women in translation month as Yanick Lahens is a female writer ,born in Haiti ,she left to study in France at the Sorbonne ,she return to Haiti where she teaches at the university and worked on projects for a foundation that helps the young people of Haiti get on with their lives amid the violence that sometimes surround in their everyday lives  ,like in this book .

All night my eyes peered into the shadows .All night my ears strained to hear the crackling of gunfire in the distance – something you always want to imagine distant ,very distant .Until that day when death comes ,bleeding to our door .Untill the day it splatters our walls like the others ,I am waiting

Waiting for their brother in the opening lines a reflection on their everyday life .

The colour of dawn is a story of siblings ,a brother  Fignolé a young man who is both a musician and an out spoken voice of his generation ,his two sister Joyeuse and Angelique one with a child that has found god ,the other is just discovering her self as a women  .Are worried when their brother disappears .So the two young sister set off through the city ,through their eyes as they hunt their brother we see the city as both a place when people know one another but also a much darker violent side that is just below the surface .Fignolé sings about the rebel cause ,he has spoken to foreign journalists ,has this landed him in trouble ,the sister need to find out and only have one day to do so .

I’ve been worried about Fignolé for too long , not because he smokes joints ,not at all ,but because of what these joints could lead him to do .I worry myself sick because of his music ,because of his rebelliousness .Because of everything that gets all mixed up and makes too much sense .The music won’t tear down walls ,Fignolé.

His music worries them ,why hasn’t he come home .

The story is told by the sister ,with frequent flashbacks on their past .Although they tell the story another main character is the city itself Port-au-Prince that comes to life of the pages .Yanick works with the young people of this city you feel the three siblings make up three faces of Modern Haitian youth ,one fighting for his freedom against the poverty of the city ,another finding god through a local priest and the last just discovering sex and maybe on a path but she is now just focused on her brother .I was reminded of films like city of god ,in parts of this book as the girls move through the city and see the darker sides it remind me the ghetto’s in that film ,also the was Caicedo novel I review Liveforever ,also about a young women ,also a journey through a city like this book .The book is one of the hidden gems that a month like Women in translation is their to uncover .

Have you read a book from Haiti

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