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bernardo atxaga seven houses in france aritz galarraga   I  oriol clavera “a new period has started” the congo

All the landscapes are in the mind. What's closest isn't completely solid either, there's something foggy, metaphysical or chimerical about it. As I'm a fan of imaginery geographies, I try to bring them out from tales and history. And the Congo is a metaphor, a new Obaba. Instead of being full of farmers it's full of soldiers and mercenaries. In any case, it could be the equivalent of any place that uses the language of lies.

the language

This novel isn't like a 19 th century parable, it isn't like Voltaire, for example, in which the characters show a stupid type of optimism. It isn't literature with a moral either, because there's a realistic novel inside. In this case, the language takes us to the ways of today's world. If the book creates satire through its language, it isn't just with a single idea, nor does it create a single idea using a single metaphor.

the objective

The objective can never be separated from the act of writing. In my opinion, this is the route you take: A type of atmosphere is created in your head, including memories, theories, ideas, characters, but without anything specific. You start writing with what you have in your head and the text itself shows you what you wanted to say. Approaches based on "I'm going to write about something" or "I must tell this story" don't work. I take two steps forward and one step backwards when I write novels.


Muteness, terseness and a lack of expressiveness are his main characteristics. And characters like that create incredible movement around them, they give a lot of life to literature.


Speeches about compassion, goodness or solidarity or based around an accusation are no longer heard. They've lost their poetic sense. Because of this change I had the idea of silencing the idea instead of proclaiming it. There are silences for the readers to fill in. You could say that the passages in which I talk about violence are as if we were talking about the weather. And there are many layers beneath the adventure novel. I looked for a breaking point: how can you laugh about this type of thing?

I once heard Roland Barthes say that humour is the last house in which there is still poetry. When my father died I wrote a poem. It could have been a eulogy, but I called it "Zebras and Death". There are a lot of zebras at the start and when they cross the river some of them get left there. Humour is one of the few ways to talk about these things, if it isn't the only way. At least that's how it is today, after so many other texts.

the change

More than changing my way of writing, what I've done is recover some things from before Obaba, my voice from before Obaba. A poem like this, for example: I'll die, dubidubi/ I'll die, dubidubi/ Could be, dubidubi/ Almost sure, dubidubi/ But will they kill me here?. Or from the "Ethiopia" collection "Besieged in that beautiful morning of Bilbao”, which was a scandal.

the new phase

I feel euphoric, I can see very clearly that I've opened a new route. In the same way that I started Obaba and then went on and on with it, this is the start of a new phase. I'm going to publish "Nevada Days" first, but then "Charlotte and the Monkeys" will come out, a novel about Chrysostome's granddaughter.


That world's finished, I've said all there is to say about it. The books remain, but as Ruper says, "that must have been somebody else". The world of childhood is infinite, but I've made the literary world a closed one. Perhaps I should have put an end to it a bit earlier, five or ten years ago, and left some of the books unpublished.

four languages

This latest novel has been published in Spain's four official languages at the same time. Slightly earlier in Basque, to keep that bit of symbolism. Very few books are published in these four languages and there's a utopical beauty to that. But it's been a tough process and very hard work during these last months. I'll never do it again.


My stay there was fantastic. And, at the same time, taking a break isn't a bad idea at all. Europe hardly exists there, with the exception of Sarkozy and his wife (and the wife more than Sarkozy). We didn't have anything else to do: writing, writing and writing. And I came back with the sensation that I'd done some great work. It's true that the place you come from calls you, but it doesn't have to all the time.