GARZIA, Juan

(Legazpi, 1955)

"Juan Garzia has translated into Basque Shakespeare, Melville, Beckett and J. L. Borges among others, and Itzalen itzal (1993, Shadow of Shadows) is his strongest collection of short stories. In it, we find eleven chapters and a scrap of conversation (Borgesian), but we cannot say that this is a loose collection of stories, because they gather themselves into a wholeness. One of these stories is Gubbio, chosen for this anthology. It tells the disturbing story of a 13th-century nun, her transgression (blasphemy) and its dramatic consequences. Citing dubious sources, making reference to apocryphal books, reaping humor and the absurd... Garzia's work teaches us that literature can be an interesting game. As the critic Iņaki Aldekoa states, shadow is everything, convention is everything in this book of Garzia's."

(Olaziregi, M.J., "Foreword", in An Antology of Basque Short Stories, Center for Basque Studies - University of Nevada, 2004).


A dishful for this fool (my life and works)

The chief date of my life is the day – the night (February 7, 1955) – just before I was born. That evening, my mother-to-be's last dinner (about 22:30 is a normal Basque dinnertime) was at least a half kg of good black-backed elvers (the prices weren't what they are today). This might explain – but not justify, of course – a lot of things about my personality: these question-like curls and spiraling breaks in syntax and behavior, that sybaritic gluttony of the unknown... and other kinds of oddity better known to Mr. Freud (in fact, it was the bait of that dish of elvers that lured me into this world). It was a rather busy digestion that night, both my mother's and mine, and I keep on doing it even now, though by other means (i.e. secreting metaphorical ink-sweat, progressively blackening my elver-self as it grows into an adult eel, having epically swum from the remote sea to reach its mother's creek, and then, if not yet caught, soon parting again from the sweet waters towards the deadly ocean of its birth...). It has perhaps been worth it, even if just to tell the story again. From that particular night on, my biography is trivial. The rest – what is left out, and what may somehow slow wild living – is not yet perfect silence, but some imperfect (short, too short) stories and a number of translations that could paint, all together, the illusory portrait of one of my selves. But these are too many little selves from only a half kg of elvers.


[Editor's note: J. Garzia has published a novel, Fadoa Coimbran (The Fado in Coimbra, 1995), a book for children, Sudur puntan mundua (The world at the end of your nose), and two collections of short stories, Akaso (Perchance, 1987), and Itzalen itzal (Shadow of shadows, 1993). ]


Further information about the author:

  • The website of EIE (Basque writers' association).
  • Literaturaren zubitegia, in the website of "armiarma".
  • The website of EIZIE (Association of Translators, Correctors and Interpreters of Basque Language).
  • Information about the Euskadi prize he was given in 1999 for his translations of J. L. Borges's short stories can be found here


Š Photo: Zaldi Ero

Š Ipuin hautatuak: Ibaizabal

Š Itzalen itzal: Alberdania