Joseba Sarrionandia’s book on Elkano´s voyage around the world is now available

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


The illustrated book ´Munduari bira eman zion ontzia´ is the work of Basque writer Joseba ‘Sarri ‘ Sarrionandia and Cuban illustrator Arístides ‘Ares’ Hernández. The book is released in Basque by the Pamiela publishing house and will receive supported from the Etxepare Basque Institute for translation into Galician, Catalan and Spanish. The publication was also funded in part by the Elkano Foundation to raise awareness around the first journey to circumnavigate the globe. It is a story for readers ages 10 and over.

Joseba Sarrionandia and Arístides Hernández, accompanied by Elkano Foundation director Ion Irurzun, and Eli Irazu from Pamiela publishers, presented the work this morning at the San Telmo Museum in Donostia. The event was also attended by Irene Larraza, director of the Etxepare Basque Institute, the organization responsible for the translation of the book.

The book is a dialogue between a history teacher and her granddaughter about the voyage of Juan Sebastian Elkano. The girl insists on "a true story and no more fairytales”, giving rise to various issues in the course of a lively conversation not without its irony. Playing with the double meaning of the Basque word ´ontzia´ – which can be both boat and vessel – Sarri affirms that the book is also "a vessel for memory and the critical spirit".

Referring to the Elkano´s voyage 500 years ago and its connection with today, Sarrionandia said that the past was not dead. "It’s not even done yet. Those ships are symbolic of a first globalization. The aircraft carriers and satellites of today represent the umpteenth globalisation led by people with the mind-set of a gang of thieves who, with the excuse of representing civilisation versus barbarism, continue to act with clever injustice," he explained. The author is also confident that the book can serve a purpose: "We live in a time of single-minded, mobile thinking, with the speed and expiration of mobility, where a book seems more like a footprint of someone who passed by than an effective communication tool. But it’s still a good container for memory and critical spirit. That´s what we wanted to do with the text and the drawings, a vessel for remembering a bit of history and observing what´s going on."

Ares added that the book was a great learning experience for him: "By illustrating the book I learned a story, the story of an around-the-world journey I thought I knew well, but I actually didn´t know at all," he said. It was a new experience for Ares in terms of how he worked: "I’m usually given a book that’s already written, with empty spaces to insert the illustrations. By working with Sarri I got to see how the words and images emerged with four hands and how the whole project gradually took shape and meaning. For me it was a new way of working".

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