Project Description

Spanish National Prize of LiteratureUnai Elorriaga

Spain / Basque Country

The author was born in 1973 in Algorta/Getxo on the Basque Coast, where he still lives today. Unai Elorriaga studied Language and Literature and currently works as a translator and critic. For his first novel, UN TRANVÍA EN SP, he was awarded the Spanish national prize Premio Nacional de Narrativa in 2002. The four following titles were composed in Basque and translated into Spanish by the author himself. For his second latest novel Mapas y perros Elorriaga was awarded the Premio Nacional de la Crítica and was finalist for the Premio Nacional de Literatura in 2015.

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Unai Elorriaga© Argazky

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Un tranvía en SP

Un tranvía en SP (“A Tram to the Himalaya”) tells of an unusual friendship between a young busker and a pair of elderly siblings. Critics were thrilled by the young author’s startlingly perceptive approach to thorny topics such as age, forgetfulness and death. Moreover, they rejoiced at his wilful style.

Quotes

Un tranvía en SP

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Vredaman

In Vredaman (“Plants Don’t Drink Coffee”), his most recent novel, Unai Elorriaga tells the enchanting tales of a small Basque village. At first, we meet Tomas, whose childlike perspective forms one of four narrative strands. Since his father is in poor health, the boy spends the summer at his aunt’s house and goes hunting for insects with his older cousin. To catch the rare blue dragonfly is his highest ambition. As before with age, the author here skilfully encapsulates the child’s world with his imaginative and playful language. The most ambitious project of the summer, however, is impelled by Uncle Simón. As a rugby fan he has a tough stand in Spain, where only rarely a game is transmitted, let alone carried out. Yet with the help of 82-year old Piedad, who once lived in England and speaks the language, he manages to realize his wildest dream, to referee a game in Wales against Ireland. The game is a huge success for him, but he goes even further: Simón invites both teams back to his village. Here both players and spectators clamber over the walls of the nearby golf course where Simón and his friends have prepared a pitch. When the police eventually arrive on the sidelines, indecisive and late, the final whistle is blown and all disappear to conclude the evening on the beach. In scenes which sometimes border on the surreal, Unai Elorriaga presents us with a world in which dreams and desires still form part of everyday life. His protagonists are often simple human beings, who emanate a great kindness and who charm their environment and the reader alike.

Quotes

Vredaman

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Londres es de cartón

The young protagonist Phineas is convinced that his vanished sister Sora has been abducted by the henchmen of the dictatorship terrorising their small town. Despite all the risks involved, he sets out to search for her. Phineas comes across reports and documentations of the permanent spying, torture and forced operations used to oppress every dissident in the surveillance state. Into this first part of his novel Londres es de cartón (“London Is Made of Card”) Elorriaga weaves a second strand, which reads like a typical English detective story. An elderly lady has been murdered and three men start the detective work of revealing the killer. The murderer they find is the schizophrenic Sora, who is put into a psychiatric ward. Although Phineas finds out what really happened to his sister in the end, he never loses hope of one day seeing her again. Londres es de cartón questions our familiar perception of reading. With virtuoso skill, the author uses dreams and imitation, confronting the reader with the horrors of a nameless dictatorship and the dubious nature of deductive investigations. Elorriaga is a master in showing us the gaps left behind by a desaparecido.

Quotes

Londres es de cartón

RIGHTS

NOVELS
Iturria
Tafalla: Susa 2019, 248 p.

Mapas y perros (working title)
(original title in Basque: Iazko hezurrak, Susa 2014)
Premio Nacional de la Crítica 2015
Finalista Premio Nacional de Literatura 2015
USA: Archipelago Books

Londres es de cartón
Alfaguara 2010, 216 p.

(original title in Basque: Londres kartoizkoa da, Edición Elkar 2009)

Vredaman
Madrid: Alfaguara 2006, 188 p.

(original title in Basque: Vredaman, Edición Elkar 2009)
Catalán: RBA – La Magrana 2006 · Galician: Galaxia 2006 · Italy: Gran Vía 2008 · US: Archipelago Books 2009

El pelo de Van’t Hoff
Madrid: Alfaguara 2004, Punto de lectura pb, 211 p.

(original title in Basque: Van’t Hoffen ilea, Edición Elkar 2014)
Galician: Galaxia 2004

Un tranvía en SP
Madrid: Alfaguara 2003, Punto de lectura pb 2004, 175 p.

(original title in Basque: SPrako Tranbia, Edición Elkar 2001)
Premio Nacional de Narrativa 2002
Over 100.000 copies sold
Filmed in 2008 with Daniel Brühl (Good Bye, Lenin), entitled “Un poco de chocolate”
Italian and Polish translation available
Catalán: Proa 2003 · Estonia: Loomingu 2005 · Galician: Galaxia 2002 · Germany: Schöffling 2005, pb Piper 2006 · Italy: Gran Vía 2008 · Serbia: Samizdat B92 2005

THEATRE
Y los peces estornudaron, Buenos Aires: Letranómada 2008, 110 p.
(original title in Basque: Doministiku egin dute arrainek)