“Its enormous variety and unique mixture of generic possibilities set it apart from almost everything in the short-story genre. Its pages make the word and the world new and fresh again, with originality not very common in contemporary Spanish narrative. Here is a writer who shares generously his sheer delight in language and styles of writing” - Eugenio Suárez-Galbán, The New York Times
“The centre of what is most new and exciting in modern European writing. There is humour, irony, magic, mystery and a mastery poetic language. A pleasure to read” - Publishing News
“The secret of enjoying Obabakoak is to suspend one’s literary antennae and enjoy these stories for what they are: fables, parables, fantasies or dreams, some paying tribute to famous writers -Balzac, Chekhov, Maupassant, Evelyn Waugh. Others flit from one century or one country to another, delightfully defying every rule of structure or logic” - Euan Cameron, The European
“The questions Atxaga raises are universal and the time is indefinite. The stories are surprisingly fresh and wonderfully blended. Atxaga holds the attention by his sheer craft, by the complete control he exhibits as he lead us through this “game of the goose” - Nick Caistor, The Independent
“It rip in so lightly among such a crowd of varied and often touching stories that it never gives a sense of brainy ostentation. On the contrary, the sense is of having been accompanied, pleased, teased and agreeably outwitted” - Ruth Pavey, New Statesman & Society
“The narrator’s embedded stories are themselves small masterpieces. There is humour shot through with pathos and irony that is wry rather than biting, a novel that is entertaining without ever becoming lightweight” - Abigail Lee Six, The Times Literary Supplement
“Far from intending an autobiography, Atxaga proposes a realistic portrait of his generation. In the limited and suggestive literary horizon of Euskadi, Atxaga is already a classic for his effort and ability to intensify the expressive possibilities of his language. But this is not enough. His descriptions of landscapes in which the rare melancholia of a fragmented life is projected, match not only the shadow of terrorism but the yearning of those that, for good or bad, believed in the spirit of utopia” - Paolo Alberto Valenti - Il Messaggero
The title of the book means “events that happened in Obaba”, and Obaba is the village at the centre of this novel composed of linked tales and parodies written with a delicate sense of childlike innocence.
A man relates in his diary the beautiful deception practised on him by his father many years before. A young woman teacher, friendless and lonely, makes a passionate mistake. A boy is transformed into a wild boar. Two friends tell each other stories while trying to solve the mystery of a childhood photograph: can a lizard slip into your ear and eat your brain, so that memory and creativity are destroyed?
Gradually, we realise that there is a darker theme beneath these jokey and sad stories of loss, of events in a small mysterious land. All the good stories seem already to have been written, and the narrator of the book becomes a victim of his own tales and his “search for the last word” that will give meaning to them.
Using many technique, from the oral tradition of the Basque country to the most recent avant-garde, Atxaga models a language apparently naïve but which can be interpreted on many different levels, all suffused with tenderness, nostalgia and indulgence towards these strange people of Obaba.
Obabakoak is a dazzling collage of stories, town gossip, diary excerpts and literary theory, all held together by Atxaga’s distinctive and tenderly ironic voice.