Bilbao – New York – Bilbao
Translated by Elizabeth Macklin.
The day he knew he was going to die, Liborio Uribe took his young daughter in law to the Museum of Fine Arts to show her a picture. Liborio had spent his entire life at sea, like his son José, living out unforgettable adventures which would later fade into obscurity. Years after, faced by the same painting, Liborio’s grandson Kirmen, a writer and poet, uses these family stories to write a novel.
Bilbao–New York–Bilbao takes place during a flight to New York and tells the story of journeys by three generations of the same family. The key to the book is Liborio’s fishing boat, the Dos Amigos: who are these two friends, and what is the nature of their friendship? Through letters, diaries, emails, poems and dictionaries, Kirmen creates a mosaic of memories and stories that combine to form a homage to a world that has almost disappeared, as well as a hymn to the continuity of life. It is also a reflection on the art of writing, and lies between life and fiction.
Like W.G. Sebald, J.M. Coetzee or Emmanuel Carrere, Uribe finds new narrative forms within fiction without sacrificing authenticity or accessibility for the reader. As leading El País journalist Juan Cruz says, Bilbao–New York–Bilbao is “a splendid novel, which the reader acknowledges like a hug”.
Uribe has succeeded in realizing what is surely an ambition for many writers: a book that combines family, romances and literature, anchored deeply in a spoken culture but also in bookishness – and all without a single note of self-congratulation. – Times Literary Supplement
The novel is set in an absolutely modern territory, the usual place of key writers of our time such as Emmanuel Carrere, WG Sebald, Orhan Pamuk and JM Coetzee. – Sudouest
This book is as beautiful as a memory. – Le Figaró
Uribe’s literary proposal is entirely fresh and innovative. A novel of our time. This writer who comes from a ‘small country’ begins his journey through the field of universal literature, searching for transnational communication. – Mainichi Shimbun.
A splendid novel, which the reader acknowledges like a hug. – El País
Beautiful. It has the rare quality of attending to tradition without sounding like folk, and being modern without rejecting those that were so before.