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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,265 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Admirada por miles de lectores, elogiada por la crítica y traducida a numerosas lenguas, Obabakoak destaca por la perfección con que se engarzan las historias que presenta, así como por la arrebatadora imaginación de su autor y la maestría con que éste consigue impolicar al lector en los ambientes y situaciones que describe. Esta joya literaria contiene también una de las ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published August 2nd 1994 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,265 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
this is a wholly engaging novel, of love, cultural preservation, and the power of narrative - all blended with an early hemingway prose infused with a healthy dose of magical realism (and only the very best parts of this much maligned style). atxaga examines not only what makes stories appealling; but, more importantly, why narrative endures. this is really a hermetically sealed book (which could be called a novel, or interconnected short stories, depending on if you think a place can be a prota ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
"Obaba" is a place, a Basque village. "Obabakoak" means the people and things of Obaba. originally written in Basque (an almost dead language, understood only by a few), it was later translated into Spanish where it was received with acclaim in Europe. This English version was a translation from the Spanish.

I felt I could have written this book myself. I had also lived in an "Obaba" during my younger years, an obscure town in a small island facing the Pacific Ocean. During those times the town h
Emma Sea
Utterly lovely, and elegantly woven together.
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Though tagged a novel, Obabakoak is better described as a series of fictions, tied together only by their setting in the village of Obaba. But each separate story is lovingly told, and the whole comes together to give the reader a great sense of place. Atxaga also runs certain themes throughout the book, with different apparitions through the various fictions, that come together also to give the book that sense of wholeness not present in certain collections of stories.

At its heart, I think Obab
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vasco, español
Awhile ago I had read The Accordionist’s Son by Bernardo Atxaga. That was quite the story. Then I came across this list by the Guardian of the ten best books set in Spain and Obabakoak was on the list.

Obabakoak. Those people from Obaba. Obaba: an imaginary place in the Basque Country. Euskal Herria. El País Vasco.

Although it seems like a collection of short stories (it is), there is a thin line (a very thin) that binds them together. The book is divided in
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is how short stories are supposed to be: tight, elegant, meaningful, and loosely interconnected. Don't give me that minimalist, Carverite, slice-of-life bullshit.
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book. On one level it's a collection of short stories that are only slightly related to each other by their settings - most taking place in Obaba (a Basque village) or Hamburg - but it's more than that. Atxaga has intertwined thoughts on writing, literary interpretation, and what makes story good with tales that typify these thoughts. These stories were entertaining and often thought-provoking.

Other reviewers have commented that there is a bit of magic realism in Obab
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book circumvents serious review by containing its own exegesis, and by existing from such subtle and deft construction that to explain or examine OBABAKOAK is to take something away from future readers. Read this book. Seriously, read this book. I'll write more later.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In our age of pragmatism and in our country, where social realism found a fertile audience, there has appeared a book of magic so unprepossessing that some mistake it for its opposite - a clear description of a real place. The many events in this book occur in a Basque village of Obaba - a real place, according to its author. (After the Decadents and the Symbolists, and even the Romantics, we should beware of "reality" of phenomena and the "ideality" of words.) The events, however, are not as cl ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
At once a performative discourse on Basque literature, as well as a "plagiarism" of other archetypal stories, this book offers but a slinty-glimpse of what it is to form oneself as an imaginative writer in a tongue that is largely unknown, without losing one's sense of place or history. Significantly, this collection of tales is translated from Basque to Spanish, and only comes to the English-speaking world by way of Spanish translation. It's rather tragic, but perhaps fitting--this translationa ...more
David Rickards
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book! Translated from the Basque, told as a series of loosely related stories that tie together at the end. Dreamy.
Jun 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Michael Murray

0099512998 (ISBN13: 9780099512998)

Withdrawn from Tower Hamlets Library
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Translator's Note
The Game of Goose
Prologue (The author speaks of his language, euskera)

A collage of stories, town gossip, diary excerpts and literary theory melded together that I have hauled around northern Europe in an attempt to get it read.

Thank heavens I was not born Basque because I just do not understand the mindset going on. Fully advocating honest reviewing I have to say, mea culpa, I
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-list-books
I'm a little torn with this review. Atxaga is one a small number of Basque authors, and in this collection he tells short stories of the village of Obaba. They have a fairy tale like air, and the first few are full of magical joy and in true fairy tale style, dark villianry. The second half describes a casual author's club, run by the narrator's father, with strict rules about form and plagiarism. These rules evolve along with the stories they tell, but the stories are a little less magical and ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great and fun work that takes the reader on a trip through a fictional world of mystery and intrigue.
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having been to the Basque region and having experienced a taste of their culture, I wanted to read a piece of Basque literature. In searching for such a book, Atxaga’s Obabakoak kept coming up on lists as the best piece of Basque literature available in English, and I thus went into Obabakoak expecting to read something quintessentially Basque. But that’s almost the exact opposite of what Obabakoak is going for: Atxaga wasn’t trying to create something completely unique and different, but to lin ...more
Bob Newman
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Basking in the light of literature

I'd never read any Basque literature before reading OBABAKOAK. Probably that was because there isn't a lot of it. Many Basque writers might have written in Spanish or French--maybe that's one reason why--and then for centuries, Basque was always given low status, "not modern", "just for villagers", "not a proper language", and so on. So, I was very curious to know what kind of novel would come out of Euskadi, that region on both sides of the Pyrenees inhabited b
Jack Hrkach
This second book I've read by Atxaga, is I think one of his best-known in the US. Obaba is a fictional village in Basque Country and for about the first 2/3 of the book he treats us to a collection of characters, most melancholy, most outsiders, and most of the stories do not have particularly happy endings (some end nightmarishly in fact). In fact the mood is that of melancholy. One gets the feeling that no matter where his characters might have ended up they would be sad, dissatisfied souls. I ...more
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
This is not really a novel, but a collection of stories, with the last section of stories linked together within the context of a literary evening about short stories. As a set of vignettes about life in the Basque region of Spain, this is a nice book, but I had a hard time getting into it. The writing is good, but not particularly engaging or compelling. Still, there are so few books from Basque Spanish authors that this one is worth reading. I did like the recurring theme of lizards, and the f ...more
Thomas Cooney
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A small, unheralded masterpiece. Reads as if a novel Camus might have written if he'd been from the Basque region and raised as much on the oral tradition as the written. Insightful ("I realized too how terrible it must be to wake up, possibly from a happy dream, only to find one's deformity is still there) and humorous ("My father had a similar saying. He said that in Heaven there's a huge cake reserved solely for married people who've never once regretted getting married. The cake's never been ...more
Daren Kearl
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first from the 1001 Books to Read that I have actually thought yes it deserves that place.
A series of short stories woven into a thread with treatises on writing and plagiarism that justifies the work itself - echoes of Arabian Nights, Boccaccio and Canterbury Tales. The mother’s warning to a child of lying down in case a lizard crawls in your ear that links a few macabre stories up to the end were my favourite.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
While not every story appealed to me, most did...for their quirky characters, vastly varied circumstances, and unforgettable moments (lizards crawling in ears), all written in a distinctly beautiful style. Humor, literary theory, diary, romance, history of a Basque village, this collection contains a little of everything and, thus, almost defies description.
Just Zack
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
wow -- the final cycle of stories "In Search of the Last Word" is amazingly intricate, a tour-de-force reminiscent of "Cloud Atlas".
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Playful and clever.
Candy Greenway
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the best stories I have ever read!
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
May never have read this if I hadn't traveled to the Basque and if I hadn't, it'd have made no great difference. But I have and I have and they're lovely.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found the writing really stimulating and captivating. Only reason it isn't 5 stars is I personally had a hard time finding the connection between different stories.
Rebecca Hays
Couldn't get into it, maybe just in the wrong mood for it. Self-conscious, picaresque....
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Obabakoak is Bernardo Atxaga's best-known book, the one that brought him a small international reputation. Yet it's perhaps his least straightforward novel. It's a novel that operates on several different levels of reality.

Bernardo Atxaga is the pen name of a writer called Joseba Irazu Garmendia, from Asteasu, Gipuzkoa. (Not so long ago, it was not a smart move to write in Basque under one's own name). A storyteller from Asteasu has access to the world's treasure trove of stories. But he chooses
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This loosely-related collection of short stories is definitely worth reading. I must admit that there wasn't much in them that said "Basque literature" in such a way as to separate them from other short stories, and after a while I gave up looking.

Set in either Obaba (a village in the Basque region of Spain) or Hamburg, these stories are relatively quiet and, I thought, have some thread of dream/magical realism running through them. Often the characters are loners with somewhat rich interior liv
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Obabakoak, winner of the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s National Literature Prize, is an outstanding work by Basque author Bernardo Atxaga. Originally written in euskera, the language of the Basque Country, the version I read was an English translation from the Spanish.

While its title is Obabakoak (Individuals and Things of Obaba), locations are not restricted to this fictional setting, but rather include Germany, Albania, Nepal, and the Amazon Region, and span often unreferenced time periods whi
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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, Euskara, 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

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