"I was born in Tolosa, and I have been a librarian in the town's public library for a long time. I studied Basque Philology at university, but I don't teach. I have written four collections of short stories: Eldarnioak (1991), Zer gerta ere (1994), Ez balego beste mundurik (2000), and Ipuin errotikoak (2001). I have also written four volumes of poetry, a theatre play, and quite a few books for children and young people. Poetry and the short story are my favorite genres; the novel doesn't fit in my world-view. I believe that writing makes me free, but I don't know if I love freedom. These are some of my teachers: Kafka, Borges, Cortázar, Felisberto Hernández, Beckett, Rulfo, Saki, Wilcock, Piñera, Chekov, Hrabal, Mrozek, Bernhard, Anderson Imbert, Arreola, Poe...
I like short stories that make use of fantasy, have a touch of playfulness, are splattered with the violence of life, challenge the reader and are powerful, suggestive, full of the unexpected; I also think, at the same time, that in short stories, humor and irony are a must for they are the most appropriate weapons for combating human tragedy, alienation, solitude, and the absurdity of life, because they offer distance and protection. The short story can transgress all laws, but has its own rules; within them there's still room to really be free, in the reign of allegory and metaphor."
Linazasoro, K. "Biography," in Olaziregi, M.J. (comp.), An Anthology of Basque Short Stories, Center for Basque Studies-University of Nevada, Reno, 2004.
©Translation: Kristin Addis
Karlos Linazasoro holds a degree in Basque Philology from the University of Deusto. He has been the director of the Tolosa Public Library since 1987.
Karlos Linazasoro has worked in many genres (poetry, short story, novel, theater, children's literature and editorial), and has won many prizes: the Lizardi Prize (1990), the City of Irun Prize in Poetry (1992), the Ignacio Aldekoa Prize (1993), the Toribio Altzaga Theater Prize (1997), the Steamboat Prize (1997), the City of San Sebastian Prize (1998), and the Basque Country Prize in Children's and Young People's Literature (2001) for his work, Bota gorriak (The Red Boots).
With respect to poetry, Linazasoro has published six volumes to date: Udazkeneko karaban erratua (The Wandering Caravan of Autumn, Elkar, 1991), Apunte eta ahanzturak (Notes and Things Forgotten, Kutxa, 1993), Euriaren eskuak (Hands of the Rain, Alberdania, 1995), Inoiz izan ez garenotan (In Places We?ve Never Been, Alberdania, 2002), Eguzkia ateri (The Sun Clears Up, Egilea editore, 2001) and Denbora aleak (Grains of Time, Pamiela, 2005). According to Koldo Izagirre, "Linazasoro is above all a poet of solitude. It is true that in his first book he often speaks in the plural, but that "we" serves as a disguise, an adopted timidity to make clear an excessive "I-ness," an overblown focus on self, if not one who cannot fully get past his childhood, then one of the resentful who have gathered. The cart of grass, corn silk, tadpoles, oxen, the sickle, heather, leaves, birch trees... We see almost continuous comparison between images of peasant life and the play of young people, not to sing the praises of nature, to describe a certain type of society or pay homage to the past, but for a mythical purpose: the poems define specific moments of the countryside, they are a way to reflect states of mind. The surroundings are full of things and animals but not people, and when anyone appears, his presence serves only to increase the looming solitude. After speech, there is an oppressive silence. And whenever the city appears, its streets are empty; the city is the perspective of space and has no value in itself. Again, nothing but natural elements appear, the moon, snow, trees, as if the poet's eye always picked up a concrete memory. Memories and images work together, and descriptions are the indicators of the inner state, a projection of sadness. Thus, the snowy borough and the abandoned city street are mythical places and moments. There are no geographical skirmishes between these places, they both have isolated spaces, ones saddened by the absence of love; the lack of love makes everything empty and unbearable. Linazasoro's first poems carry the weight of the huge feeling of being a stranger, an orphan, in society.
"Nevertheless, this outside world returns again to the poet. His contemplative stance suddenly becomes contagious because, among other things, Linazasoro's special ability to see, to capture pictorial details, betrays him, but in a positive way. This unpopulated but melancholically beautiful environment will somehow complete his solitude, in superbly used long-lined couplets for thought and for measured description full of metaphors, in serene writing without clamor, with respect to the fatalism of the initial discourse. Some time, even if tentatively, untrustingly, the poet will set off in search of a "you" in his coming books, he will go from solitude to love and its unluckiness. This I-ness will become more and more evident, in clearer thought and without symbols. He who was afraid to enter into a relationship with the world will give up contemplation and take a step toward the future, without waiting for any caravan. The relationship will be problematic, but it will exist, coming to us from his inner activity to the dialectic. Karlos Linazasoro's poetry has to do with the process of destroying lack of communication, and this is why, even at its most restrained, it could not be more human" (Izagirre, Koldo. "Sarrera," "Introduction," Karlos Linazasoro. XX. mendeko poesia kaierak, Susa, 2002).
In the genre of short story, Linazasoro has published Eldarnioak (Erein, 1991), the trilogy composed of Zer gerta ere (Whatever Happened?, Erein, 1994), Ez balego beste mundurik (If There Is No Other World, Alberdania, 2000) and Ipuin errotikoak (Alberdania, 2001), and Glosolaliak eta beste (Speaking in Tongues, Alberdania, 2004). In the words of critic Mari Jose Olaziregi, "the existential anguish caused by death is very much present in the work of Karlos Linazasoro. This anguish appears in his stories in the guise of the literature of the absurd (echoes of Kafka and the theater of the absurd), and is expressed in the upside-down fantasy of irrational logic (Cortázar). The mixture of reality and dream, the suffocating atmosphere, delirium, savagery... these are the elements of Linazasoro's tales. This explains why there are so many crazy people in his stories, because they depict the irrationality behind the mask" (Olaziregi, M.J. (comp.), "Foreword," An Anthology of Basque Short Stories, Center for Basque Studies-University of Nevada, Reno, 2004).
Two other collections of stories deserve mention: Bestiarioa. Hilerrikoak (Bestiary. From the Graveyard, Elkar, 2006) and Diotenez (So They Say, Erein, 2007), which won the Erein-Euskadiko Kutxa Prize. In Bestiarioa. Hilerrikoak, "as in his previous work (see Zer gerta ere), Linazasoro unleashes a character that could be his alter ego; his alter ego or the image through the looking-glass. When someone sees himself in the mirror of reality or in its reverse side, the world can totally change, as can he himself in the world. Karlos Linazasoro recounts the deeds and feats of a writer (sorry, of someone who wants to be a writer) named K.L., who lives in a city called T and is a librarian, just like Karlos Linazasoro himself, but without being Karlos Linazasoro. And therein lies the parody. It is like leaving the conscience free to play as it will. I wouldn't say this is everyone's dream, but it is some people's. A lovely game, in any case: what would I be if I were myself without being me? Metaphysics.
"Together with the parody, irony. The impotence and procrastination in his duty of a man who is a writer and who wants to write. Irony about the genre: the aphorism becomes a chapter in a novel. He is a follower of Monterroso in this respect, at least in the area of hyper-mega-brevity. And especially the ironic eye in the face of daily situations: in the supermarket, in the old folks' home, in the graveyard (not the yard), on the street, in the bar, at home. A humble irony, fine, wise and elegant. Like all types of irony, it needs friends rather than mere acquaintances to be able to express itself. Or a reader as fine, wise and elegant as the writer" (Juaristi, Felipe. "Autoparodia," "Self-Parody," El Diario Vasco, 15 December, 2006).
With respect to Diotenez, "short texts are Linazasoro's forte, but this does not mean they are simple. On the contrary, the aphorisms and stories, dialogues and thoughts included in the book make the reader think, and in order to think, he must of course take time, and since it is difficult to do both at once -read and think, that is- he will stop reading, though with the words still in his head, and will turn them over and over in his mind, shake them every which way. I don't think he'll regret it. Linazasoro strips reality naked and leaves it naked in its absurdity. Like Diogenes left Alexander the Great, so they say" (Juaristi, Felipe. "Diogenes," El Diario Vasco, 4 May, 2007).
Additionally, Linazasoro is the author of the novella, Itoko dira berriak (New Ones Will Drown, Alberdania, 2003), a nod to the literature of the absurd, as well as of two collections of aphorisms: Isiltasunaren adabakiak (Patches of Silence, Pamiela, 2003) and Beti eder dena (Always Beautiful, Erein, 2006). He has also published a theater work: Burdindenda (The Ironmonger, BBK-Euskaltzaindia, 1998). "In his only theater work to date, Burdindenda. Trajikomedia sesieruditoa ekitaldi bakarrean (The Ironmonger. A pseudo-erudite tragicomedy in one act), we find the qualities with which (Linazasoro's) narration is suffused: the absurd, black humor and cruelty. Everything happens within a dialogue between two characters: the clerk at the ironmonger's and a young customer. The set is simple and similarities to Samuel Beckett?s Waiting for Godot are obvious from the beginning. Like the Irishman's Vladimir and Estragon, Linazasoro's young customer wants to kill himself, and goes into the shop to buy the rope he will need. The conversation about the rope drags on and cruelty and violence take the foreground in this absurd chat. ...The ending is truly surprising: the sight of the library that the clerk has hidden in the shop takes away the young man's desire to kill himself. In this unexpected happy ending, literature and Basque culture come together in a miracle cure for depression. Hence the new sense of the words on the back of the book: "This work was obviously written in the interest of surviving without the words of a psychiatrist." A truly recommendable literary therapy, this work of Linazasoro's, which won the 1997 Toribio Altzaga Prize, has earned its place among important works of recent Basque dramatic literature" (Olaziregi, M.J. "Euskal antzerki garaikideaz," "On Modern Basque Theater," Lapurdum VIII-Revue d'études basques, 2003, 389-426).
Linazasoro has also written narrative for children and young people -Besterik gabe, Albina (That's All, Albina, Ibaizabal, 1991), Ipuin arriskutsuak (Dangerous Tales, Erein, 1994), Altzeta (Alberdania, 1996), Gau, gau, gau (Night, Night, Night, SM, 1997), Gret (Kutxa, 1998), Oihan ttiki baina txukun batean (In a Small, Tidy Forest, Aizkorri, 1999), Bota gorriak (Anaya-Haritza, 2000), Hugo (Aizkorri, 2000), Walter Sismoley Eliseoko zelaietan (In Walter Sismoley Eliseo's Fields, Elkar, 2000), Entzungailua (The Earphone, Elkar, 2002), Franti (Giltza, 2003), Mendekuaren graziaz (The Pleasure of Revenge, Erein, 2004), Hogeitasei urte geroago (Twenty-Six Years Later, Erein, 2006)- as well as poetry -Kartapazioko poemak (Poems from the Notebook, Ibaizabal, 1998) together with Juan Kruz Igerabide, and Hamabi titare (Twelve Thimbles, Aizkorri, 1999).
Further information about the author:
- To see the author's translated works, go to the List of Translations from Basque of this website.
- The website of Euskal Idazleen Elkartea-EIE (Basque Writers' Association).
- Literaturaren zubitegia.
- The website of Galtzagorri Elkartea (Galtzagorri Association)
- The interview with Linazasoro published on Volgako Batelariak.
© Photo: Diario Vasco