This article was translated by John R. Bopp
We have to admit that “Homeland” by Fernando Arámburu didn’t really seem like more than a passable, if entertaining, read, were it not for the fact that its subject matter is about such serious and complex events as those we lived in our country.
As a book, we weren’t too impressed. The well-written narration seems to be mostly aimed at pleased those who lived those years outside the Basque Country, as the author did. It’s a book in which the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are drawn in broad strokes, and character development is limited to reinforcing the archetypes that already exist in the minds of those this book is aimed at.
And the book has been quite successful, so much that it’s become an international hit, and series are being made about it. The reasons are clear: it’s a tale with clear-cut dignified good guys and stupid or miserable bad guys. Quick ‘n’ easy, where “renouncing Spain” is either cured or prevented by reading …
We’ve come across many reviews from all over the world for this work by an author who, we must admit, we’re not too fond of politically. In all of them, we were able to see how that oversimplification, that trompe l’oeil, was accepted by the critics.
So, on May 2, when we read the New York Times review by Jennifer Croft, we committed a sin: we didn’t read it. Or rather, we read the first paragraph and made the mistake of thinking that it was “just another one”. We forgot that we were reading the New York Times, a newspaper that is almost never “just another one”, as we’ve been able to show over all these years. Though, in our defense, we have to say the title didn’t help.
It seems that Ms. Croft thinks that that level of simplicity can’t coincide with reality, and asks some questions and makes some appreciations. It was quite an oasis in a desert of reviews from all over the world that could have been written by the cultural attaché of the government of Spain at the corresponding embassy.
It’s a good thing we ran across this Twitter thread at the Txalaparta Publishing House, as it opened our eyes. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to see that “out there,” we’re not alone in our appreciations.
The New York Times – 2/5/2019 – USA
Repercussions From a Political Murder Play Out in a Spanish Village
“Homeland” is the story of two families in a Basque village. It toggles back and forth in time, illuminating the enmity between members of multiple generations and hinting at a once and future closeness. Although it hinges on a particular ekintza, or attack, by members of the paramilitary organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), its true protagonists are the matriarchs of these families, spiteful Miren and grief-stricken Bittori, as well as their daughters, Arantxa and Nerea. It is these women who make things happen. The men who kill and are killed are mere “jellyfish” in the wash of history.