Bernardo Atxaga

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Bernardo Atxaga at the Madrid Book Fair 2014

José Irazu Garmendia (born July 27, 1951 in Asteasu , Guipúzcoa , Spain ), known under the pseudonym Bernardo Atxaga , is a Spanish writer. His work includes short story , novel , poetry and essay and is written and published entirely in Basque . Translated into numerous other languages, he is the most widely spoken and translated writer in Basque. He studied economics at the University of Bilbao and philosophy and art at the University of Barcelona .

Since 2006 he has been a full member of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language ( Euskaltzaindia , Real Academia de la Lengua Vasca ), and in November 2010 he also became a member of the Academy of Sciences, Arts and Literature (Jakiunde, Academia de las Ciencias, de las Artes y de las Letras) . He currently lives in the town of Zalduendo in Alava .


Born in Asteasu, the son of a carpenter father and a teacher, he went to Bilbao to continue his studies and graduated in 1973 with a degree in economics from the University of Bilbao. Shortly before, in 1972, he had written his first text in Basque: Borobila eta puntua , a short theatrical composition from the anthology Euskal literatura 72 . His texts reached the Bilbao author Gabriel Aresti , who would play an important role in the young Atxaga, encouraged him to write, wished him a great future and also advised him to read some classics of Basque literature.  

After his military service, he worked in a bank in San Sebastián and published his first texts in 1975 in the literary magazine Panpina Ustela [ Lazy Doll ], which he published for some time with Koldo Izagirre . At the end of the 1970s he returned to Bilbao and worked in numerous professions - Euskera trainer, radio scriptwriter, bookseller, economist, etc. - which he combined with writing. In 1976 his first avant-garde novel, Ziutateaz [ From the City ] appeared, followed by the volume of poetry Etiopia (1978), a fundamental work in contemporary Basque poetry, which concluded the author's avant-garde career. He was a member of the avant-garde literature group Pott , which he founded at the end of 1977 together with Joseba Sarrionandia , Ruper Ordorika , Jon Juaristi and other writers in Bilbao. The group was disbanded in 1980 after publishing six issues of the eponymous magazine.

Bernardo Atxaga at the National Eisteddfod Wales 2007.

At the beginning of the 80s Atxaga decided to devote himself professionally to literature . He used the dissolution of the Pott group to study at the University of Barcelona , where he completed his studies in philosophy and art. After publishing several short stories in various literary magazines, he first began exploring Obaba's universe, where many of his subsequent works are located, including the novel Bi anai [ Two Brothers ], which brought him back to the forefront of Basque literature. In 1988 he published his most successful work, Obabakoak , a mixture of a novel and short story anthology, which has been translated into 26 languages ​​and won the 1989 Naitonale Storytelling Prize. Some of the stories that appear in the work were brought to the cinema in 2005 by Montxo Armendáriz under the title Obaba . After Obabakoak , Atxaga left Fantastic Literature in 1993 to open a realistic cycle, notably through the novels Gizona bere bakardadean [ The Man in His Solitude ] (1993), finalist of the National Storytelling Award, and Zeru horiek [ Those Heavens ] (1995). In 1996 a new anthology of texts and poems was published under the title Nueva Etiopía , which also includes a CD on which various Basque singers and groups play music to Atxaga's poems. Two years later the article Greenlandiako lezioa [ The Teaching of Greenland ] (1998) appeared.

He has already published four works in the 21st century: In 2003 he published Pamiela Soinujolearen semea [ The accordionist's son ], a novel about the disappearance of Obaba's world, "a world that has ceased to exist", according to the author.

At the end of the Obaba cycle he published the works Lekuak [ Places ] (2005) and Markak. Gernika 1937 [ tracks. Gernika 1937 ] (2007), in which he reflects on the National Socialist bombing of Foralstadt.

In 2009 the novel Zazpi etxe Frantzian [ Seven Houses in France ] was published, which simultaneously published versions in Basque , Spanish , Catalan and Galician and is one of the first books to appear in all the official languages ​​of Spain. The story takes place in the Congo at the beginning of the 20th century in a camp of Belgian legionaries.


He is considered one of the best Basque writers of the past 50 years in all literary genres, has published more than 25 books on children's and youth literature and has written several radio plays and novels.


  • 1976 - Ziutateaz.
  • 1985 - Bi anai.
  • 1988 - Obabakoak. (Goose play)
  • 1993 - Gizona bere bakardadean. (One man alone)
  • 1995 - Zeru horiek.
  • 1996 - Sara Izeneko Arizona.
  • 2003 - Soinujolearen semea. (The accordionist's son)
  • 2004 - Teresa, poverina mia.
  • 2009 - Zazpi etxe Frantzian.
  • 2013 - Nevadako egunak.
  • 2014 - Txoriak kolpeka.


  • 1978 - Etiopia. Premio de la Crítica.
  • 1986 - Henry Bengoa Inventarium.
  • 1990 - Poemas & Híbridos.
  • 1996 - Nueva Etiopía.


  • 1998 - Groenlandiako lezioa. Lista de locos y otros alfabetos.
  • 2002 - Alfabeto sobre la literatura infantil.
  • 2005 - Lekuak. Lugares.
  • 2007 - Markak. Gernika 1937. Marcas. Gernika 1937.
  • 2018 —Órdago- Hor dago. (with Joxemari Iturralde). Colección Baroja & Yo.


  • 1994 - Lezio berri bat ostrukari buruz.

Youth stories

  • 1991 - Behi euskaldun asked memoriak. Memoirs of a Basque Cow
  • 1996 - Sara Izeneko Arizona. Un hombre llamado Sara.
  • 1999 - Un traductor en París. Perteneciente a la colección de relatos de vv.aa. Cuentos apátridas.
  • 2004 - Teresa, poverina mia.

Children's literature

  • 1979 - Nikolasaren abenturak eta kalenturak. Aventuras de Nicolasa.
  • 1979 - Ramuntxo detektibea. Ramuntxo detective.
  • 1982 - Chuck Aranberri dentista batan etxean.
  • 1986 - La cacería.
  • 1991 - Flannery eta bere astakiloak. Los burros en la carretera.
  • 1987 - Astakiloak Arabian.
  • 1993 - Astakiloak jo eta jo.
  • 1999 - Aitona-amonen oroigarria. Recuerdo de mis abuelos.
  • 2005 - Nire jaioterriko jendea. La gente de mi pueblo.

Siberiako ipuin eta kantak

  • 1982 - Antonino apretaren istorioa.
  • 1984 - Asto bat hypodromoan.
  • 1984 - Jimmy Potxolo.
  • 1984 - Txitoen istorica.


  • 1995 - Mundua eta Markoni. El mundo según Markoni.
  • 1997 - Markonitar handien ekintza handiak. Los grandes episodios de la familia Markoni.


  • 1995 - Xolak badu lehoien berri. Shola y los leones.
  • 1996 - Xola eta basurdeak. Shola y los jabalíes.
  • 2000 - Xola ehitzan. Shola cazando
  • 2004 - Xola eta Angelito. Shola y angeliño.

Las bambulísticas historias de Bambulo

  • 1998 - Bambulo: fiefdom urratsak. Primeros pasos.
  • 1998 - Bambulo: Krisia. La crisis.
  • 1999 - Bambulo: Ternuako penak. Amigos que cuentan.

Film adaptations and theatrical adaptations

  • In March 2013, the theatrical version of his novel El hijo del acordeonista [ The Accordionist's Son ] premiered at the Teatro Valle-Inclán in Madrid, with performances in Basque and Spanish. There is a film version due out in 2019.

Relation to Germany

Bernardo Atxaga

Atxaga's work always has a strong connection to the world outside the Basque Country. In the secondary literature (especially Olaziregi 2005), reference is made to Atxaga's special relationship to Germany and to German-Austrian literature. Some of his stories take place in Hamburg or Berlin, some of his characters have German (albeit often somewhat alienated) names, such as Esteban Werfell, Klaus Hanhn, Hans Menscher. His novel Obabakoak was originally to be called Obaba - Hanburgo . In addition, Atxaga's writings contain allusions to works by Bert Brecht , Paul Celan , Franz Kafka , Friedrich Hölderlin , Georg Trakl , and Franz Werfel .

Literary prizes

Over time he has received numerous awards such as the Donostiako Hiria (1979, 1983), the National Storytelling Prize (1989), the Euskadi Literature Prize (1989, 1991, 1996, 1997), the Critics' Prize (1979, 1985, 1988, 1993) , The Three Crowns of the Atlantic Pyrenees Prize (1995), the SM Prize for Children's and Youth Literature (1995), Honorary Prize of the Euskal etxea of Barcelona (1996), Prize of the Association of Booksellers of Paris "Mille Pages" (1991), Prize of the Society of European Libraries IMPAC (1997). He was also a finalist of the European Prize (1990) and twice a finalist and winner of the National Narrative Prize (1993, 2003).

  • Premio de la Crítica for Bi anai (1985)
  • Premio Euskadi for Obabakoak
  • Premio Nacional de Narrativa (España) for Obabakoak (1989)
  • Premio de la Crítica for Obabakoak (1989)
  • Prix ​​Millepages for Obabakoak
  • Premio Eusko Ikaskuntza-Caja Laboral de Humanidades, Cultura, Artes y Ciencias Sociales (2002)


  • Ur Apalategui: La naissance de l'écrivain basque. L'évolution de laproblemématique littéraire de Bernardo Atxaga . L'Harmattan, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-7384-9418-8 .
  • Amaia Gabantxo: Six Basque poets. Rikardo Arregi , Bernardo Atxaga, Felipe Juaristi , Miren Agur Meabe , Kirmen Uribe , Joseba Sarrionandia . Arc Publ., Todmorden 2007, ISBN 978-1-904614-26-5 .
  • Jon Kortazar: Basque Literature. Essays . From the Spanish by Reiner Wandler, edition tranvía, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-925867-77-5 .
  • Jon Kortázar: Bernardo Atxaga. Basque Literature from the End of the Franco Era to the Present . University Press, Reno, Nv. 2005, ISBN 978-1-87780-242-3 .
  • Jon Kortázar: Literatura vasca desde la transición. Bernardo Atxaga . Editorial del Orto, Madrid 2003, ISBN 84-7923-305-2 (Biblioteca crítica de las literaturas luso-hispánicas; 5).
  • Mari Jose Olaziregi: Waking the Hedgehog. The Literary Universe of Bernardo Atxaga . University Press, Reno, Nv. 2005, ISBN 1-87780-228-X .

Web links

Commons : Bernardo Atxaga  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bernardo Atxaga: Espero que a mi vuelta de Reno, dentro de ocho meses, encuentre un país mejor '. April 25, 2009. Retrieved July 12, 2019 .
  2. Biografía de Bernardo Atxaga. Bernardo Atxaga. Retrieved July 12, 2019 .
  3. ^ Memoria y literatura a vista de pájaro. March 18, 2007, Retrieved July 12, 2019 (European Spanish).
  4. Ediciones El País: Atxaga, miembro de Jakiunde . In: El País . November 20, 2010, ISSN  1134-6582 ( [accessed July 12, 2019]).
  5. Ediciones El País: Kortazar hace un repaso desde la nostalgia de la Banda Pott . In: El País . April 15, 2003, ISSN  1134-6582 ( [accessed July 12, 2019]).
  6. Wayback Machine. November 7, 2007, accessed July 12, 2019 .
  7. “Me siento dentro de este paisaje; como decía Oteiza, amo profundamente a mi país”. Noticias de Alava. Retrieved July 12, 2019 (Spanish).
  8. ^ Marta Caballero: Bernardo Atxaga | El Cultural. Retrieved July 12, 2019 (Spanish).
  9. Bernués rueda. June 14, 2018, accessed July 12, 2019 .