The Sewanee Review Podcast is joined by guest host Dr. David Colbert-Goicoa, chair of the Spanish Department at the University of the South. In this episode, Dr. Colbert-Goicoa interviews Kirmen Uribe, a Basque novelist and poet from Ondarroa, Spain, about his newest novel, Izurdeen aurreko bizitza (The Past Life of Dolphins), which tells the story of the feminist and pacifist Rosika Schwimmer. The two also discuss the history of Basque oppression and the new narrative voices now being expressed as the literary world broadens, as well as Uribe’s and his family’s experiences as he wrote his latest book.
Their conversation begins with a poem by Uribe, “May,” which he reads first in Basque and then in Elizabeth Macklin’s English translation. This naturally evolves into a conversation about translation and the Basque language, which is spoken by less than a million people worldwide. Yet Uribe uses it as his primary language when he is writing, seeing its use as a practice of love, community, preservation, and appreciation. Recently, however, Uribe has been living in New York City and goes on to describe the pleasures of watching the world change around him: “you have to be able to see beautiful details in life to continue living.”
Kirmen Uribe (1970-) is a leading figure of Basque letters. His debut novel Bilbao-New York-Bilbao, published in 2008, won Spain’s Premio Nacional Narrativa, the country’s most prestigious literary award. His poetry book Bitartean heldu eskutik (Meanwhile Take My Hand) was a finalist for the 2008 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
The Sewanee Review Podcast is recorded in the Ralston Listening Room at the University of the South. This episode is produced by Carlos Zayas-Pons and edited by ProPodcast Solutions with music by Annie Bowers. Don’t miss any of our conversations with some of today’s best writers. Subscribe to the Sewanee Review Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.