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The Accordionist's Son: A Novel

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  277 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The Accordionist's Son by Bernardo Atxaga:

"The most accomplished novel to date by an internationally celebrated writers" (Bookforum), now in paperback.

David Imaz has spent many years living in exile in California, far from his native Basque Country. Nearing fifty and in failing health, he begins to write the story of his youth, a sweeping narrative that spans 1936 to 1999.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Graywolf Press (first published 2003)
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Friederike Knabe
Feb 02, 2012 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-lit
Internationally acclaimed Basque author Bernardo Atxaga is a poet as well as a novelist. His 2004 novel, "The Accordionist's Son", is, at one level, the coming-of-age story of David Imaz, a talented accordionist player in the footsteps of his father. The context, however, is different from many other comparable novels. Set in the remote village of Obaba, in the Basque country in northern Spain, the reader is quickly drawn into a vibrant community, torn into political factions, with families and ...more
We discussed this at my book group last night. Most people had finished all or most of it, but a few still had a hundred or so pages to go. I think they were surprised at how much of the action comes in that last eighty pages.

I won't give anything away. We learn at the beginning that the main character and principal narrator, David, has died, and that the book is largely his memoir, translated from Basque, edited, and possibly embellished by his friend Joseba. Most of the book is set in and aro
Pep Bonet
Jun 28, 2014 Pep Bonet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-la, basca
Bernardo Atxaga raramente me defrauda. Es un autor serio, que escribe muy bien y sabe construir sus novelas. Siempre me atrae de él su capacidad para incluir cuentos en sus relatos largos. Es un buen cuentista. El libro tiene una larga construcción para llegar al final a un desarrollo cada vez más acelerado, como en las buenas novelas de misterio. Vamos conociendo poco a poco al personaje del hijo del acordeonista, autor y al mismo tiempo personaje del libro. De hecho, la mayor parte del libro e ...more
Aug 15, 2011 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I kept reading this book, though the plot and characters develop slowly. The central storyline follows a young man's growing up in Basque country, seeing how Spanish fascism has shaped the lives around him, and deciding who he will be. While at first the story-within-a-story framework seemed too complex, by the end I could see that it had a purpose. Also the writing, especially the dialogue, seemed too-realistic and dull -- but as the story picked up, this flat style of narration became ...more
Deb Koua
May 04, 2015 Deb Koua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a special place in my heart for Spain, and this book was really amazing.
Nov 10, 2015 Izumen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Синът на акордеониста" е топла книга, събуждаща спомени от детството. Напомни ми на онези, огряти от слънцето филми, като"Ново кино "Парадизо" на Торнаторе и "1900" на Бертолучи, в които магията на откривателския дух се случва на фона на войни и предателства, а децата бягат, изгубени в собствения си свят. Разбира се, след това идва моментът на събуждане, когато шокираща тайна бива разкрита и светът рязко изгубва топлината си.
Apr 14, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hello all of my reading friends! This is a wonderful book! Heading to Spain I really wanted to learn more about history and the people of Spain. This book gives a lot of insight into some of Spain's recent history and how it impacted the people. Hopefully I can get another book or two in before I go!
The Reader's Bookshop
it's not the most original of titles, but this book is hands down one of the best two or three i've read over the last couple years. and it's the first time Atxaga, a Basque writer, has been translated into English.
Sep 25, 2009 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of my best friends is Basque, and his family moved from the Basque Country around 1965 to Bakersfield in order to become sheep herders and cattle ranchers. I also have an inherent interest in the Spanish Civil War.

That said, I was excited to see this book at the library given that it's about a Basque man who emigrates to Visalia with the ghosts of The Spanish Civil War and Basque separatist movement on his heels.

But for whatever reason I didn't find this book compelling. Perhaps it's because
Oct 04, 2011 Bastet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Esto fue lo último que leí de Bernardo Atxaga, y me indignó profundamente. Que conste que hasta este me había leído todos sus libros menos los poemarios y alguno infantil.
Este escritor es una vaca sagrada, un intocable, y el crítico literario Ignacio Echevarría osó firmar una reseña nada complaciente de esta novela, con el consiguiente veto de Babelia, el suplemento cultural del diario El País en el que colaboraba, donde no volvió a publicar.
Después de leer esa reseña, que a mí me pareció pond
Cyndy Aleo
Jan 03, 2015 Cyndy Aleo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The death of my computer leaves me with a lot of reading time lately, and a recent library find was The Accordionist's Son by Bernardo Axtaga, a novel translated twice, first from Basque to Spanish, then from Spanish to English.

::: Plot :::

The Accordionist's Son is a novel-within-a-novel. When the book opens, Joseba, a writer, is about to leave California to return to his home in Basque Country after his childhood frien David has died. David's widow gives Joseba a copy of David's memoirs; writte
Sep 06, 2010 Chrissie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf, spain, text-checked, swap
What do you learn from this book? You learn about the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, about Guernica, about what drives those in Basque movement for independence and most of all about how what happens in history during a set time here 1936-1939 continues to change people and evets for years to come. The writer is also a poet and you see that in his writing, particularly when he describes, not people, but animals and landscapes and language. Yes, I did like how the author expresses himself. I also t ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 Jim Elkins rated it it was ok
Shelves: spanish
Couldn't finish this book, so this is only a partial review. Atxaga was recommended to me as the best contemporary Basque writer who has been translated into English. (The person who recommended him says Luisa Etxenike is actually the best.) [return][return]Annie Proulx's endorsement on the back cover kept me going until around page 100: her notion is that the novel "at first beguiles us with its leisurely flow like a late summer river, but it is a dark river with streaks of blood seeping from t ...more
Editorial Alfaguara
La diferencia entre las incisiones antiguas y las nuevas se borrar con el tiempo y slo quedar, sobre la corteza, una nica inscripcin, un libro con un mensaje principal: Aqu estuvieron dos amigos, dos hermanos. sta es la novela ms personal de Bernardo Atxaga. En ella recorremos, como si mirramos un mosaico hecho con distintos tiempos, lugares y estilos, la historia de dos amigos: Joseba y David, el hijo del acordeonista. Desde los aos treinta hasta finales del siglo XX, desde Obaba hasta Californ ...more
Nov 26, 2015 Temz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
„Синът на акордеониста“ е въздишка, Padem, Padem – мелодията, която сме си обещали, че никога повече няма да свирим, но тя никога не ни напуска. Оригинално поднесен портрет не само на една провинция, но и на индивида като единица мярка за света; наивен и чист детски спомен, придружен от носталгията на съзряването.
-Más allá de lo que puede provocar su fondo, importante trabajo técnico.-

Género. Novela.

Lo que nos cuenta. En septiembre de 1957, en la escuela del pueblo de Obaba, David y Joseba se conocen. En septiembre de 1999, David ha muerto en California y Joseba, junto a la esposa norteamericana del fallecido, contempla como esculpen el epitafio de David en su lápida. Joseba lleva ya un mes allí y ha tenido tiempo de charlar con David antes de morir, unas conversaciones que están muy presentes en su ment
Mar 19, 2011 Elsje rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Als David komt te overlijden op zijn ranch in California, blijkt dat hij zijn memoires over zijn jeugd in Baskenland in boekvorm heeft achtergelaten. Deze zijn voor zijn Amerikaanse vrouw niet leesbaar: hij schreef het in het Baskisch, 'de oude taal' genoemd. Zijn vriend Joseba besluit dat boek verder uit te werken en zijn eigen herinneringen eraan toe te voegen. En dat is gelijk verwarrend en ook best irritant: als lezer weet je niet wat er vanuit David komt (al is het hele verhaal vanuit diens ...more
Ruth Vanderhart
I chose this book for two reasons. One, Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review, and that's often a good indicator. Two, I know zilch about Basque history, Guernica, etc. and thought this book might provide a crash course.
All I can say is that I slogged through it. The plot is very slow, sometimes almost tedious. I kept going because the book did fulfill my desire to learn more about Basque culture--some beautiful pictures of life in a small village. And because there were sections, now and
May 18, 2010 Cherie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I should create a new shelf called "abandoned" to categorize books that I did not finish.

Billed as 'the great Basque novel,' I saw this on the library shelf and thought I'd take a chance. It's filled with history and a love of Basque culture. But as one who knows next-to-nothing about Basque culture, the book seemed bogged down in romantic memories of life there decades ago. It was too romantic, if that's possible, and a very slow read.
Was given this book whilst trekking in the north of India by a Spanish woman named Aida. The text was in Spanish but my efforts to not only read but comprehend the words was beyond me. Finally read it in English.

Interesting bit of Spanish history but it took me a bit to get into the story. Perhaps I have been too distracted of late. Would recommend to anyone who likes reading about Spain.
Apr 08, 2013 Ernie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first novel by a Basque writer although he writes in Spanisha nd is translated into English. From Gernica to California: stories of love and betrayal, complicated by the love of an unique language that has multiple words for butterflies. Atxaga asks the question common to those who have taken action to oppose tyranny and injustice: is it possible to free oneself from the past?
Mar 05, 2009 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow moving and subtle, with just a bit of clunkiness that must have resulted from the fact of translation. This is especially true since it's about Basque culture and language, with a dash of literary theory thrown in. But it's a window into both that culture and the Spanish Civil War, of which I knew too little. So it's a worthwhile read if that's something you'd like to tune into.
Oct 05, 2010 Nanci rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Translated from the spanish, this book is about a Basque town and interwines the story of two generations with both the Spanish Civil War and the Basque Resistance. Unfortunately while the subject matter is interesting, the writing style is a bit flat and I felt like the characters were 2 dimensional and not really brought to life.
Dec 09, 2013 Ingrid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do I rate things too high? I changed it from a 4 star to 3 star. After reading this, I decided I didn't care for the characters as much as I thought I did while reading. But, the topics are so beloved: Basque country, standing up to Franco, moody teenagers....
Aug 18, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a difficult time choosing the number of stars to rate a novel. Certainly this one deserves a 4.5 as parts of it were absolutely amazing. The characters are real and the atmosphere continues to linger even after the closing of the final page.
Sep 07, 2010 stillme rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I think something got lost in the translation, because the dialog felt very stilted to me. I almost quit after 100 pages, but was still interested in the characters. But after 200 pages I still didn't feel motivated to finish it.
Jul 15, 2009 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: basque
one of atxaga's most accessbile novels, back in obaba, and dealing with the Sovereignty fight against fascist spain, finally. this will be a classic in the canon.
A very compelling story of friends in the Basque region of Spain. It definitely highlights to me how little I know of this portion of history.
Nov 05, 2012 Jil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spanish
If only the entire novel were as good as the short story that comes in the middle (El primer americano de Obaba).
Apr 10, 2009 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Graywolf is going to publish this great Basque novel in February, so I am reading the galley.
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Bernardo Atxaga (Joseba Irazu Garmendia, Asteasu, Guipúzcoa, 1951) belongs to the young group of Basque writers that began publishing in his mother language, Euskera, in the Seventies. Graduated in Economics for the Bilbao University, he later studied Philosophy at the University of Barcelona.

His first short story, Ziutateaz was published in 1976 and his first book of poetry Etiopia in 1978. Both
More about Bernardo Atxaga...

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