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Miren Agur Meabe

Burning Bones

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Translated by Amaia Gabantxo

Miren Agur Meabe is one of Basque literature’s leading contemporary writers and the winner of several national awards. She is the only writer to win Spain’s national poetry prize in the Basque language.

In a series of short poetic narratives Burning Bones finds the writer on a remarkable journey of imagination, discovery and emotion.

We watch the gardener gather kindling to prepare a bonfire. ‘So many branches,’ Itell Gwen. ‘They look like a pile of bones... I have a feeling that’s what I’m doing too, carrying a bundle of bones from place to place. And I don’t just mean the bones in my body.’

From a flooded river stranding a dolphin on a sandbank to a sailor afraid to venture onto land while a first kiss is cut tragically short Meabe plays with the expectations and form of stories while offering a rhapsody of reflection and reinvention.

 ‘Miren Agur Meabe’s poetic language shades and heightens the pulse of her writing, [adding] sensuality to the wound she writes of. Her way of looking elevates her raw, sincere voice to higher ground...’ – Harkaitz Cano


Expertly translated into English by Amaia Gabantxo – arguably the most prestigious contemporary Basque to English translator – Hezurren Erretura [Burning Bones] is a companion piece to Miren Agur Meabe’s A Glass Eye, a collection of short stories that complement the universe of Meabe’s novel about absence as an engine for creation, about what we make out of the things we lose – her eye, in the author’s case, or love, or the innocence of youth.

 

Miren Agur Meabe writes books for adults and children. In the course of her career she has received the Critics’ Prize twice for her poetry collections, and the Euskadi Prize for YA literature on three occasions. Her novel Kristalezko begi bat (A Glass Eye, Parthian, 2018) and the short story collection Hezurren erratura (Burning Bones, Parthian, 2022) have been warmly received by readers and critics alike. A Glass Eye has been translated into several languages and received multiple awards. In 2020, she published her fifth poetry collection, Nola gorde errautsa kolkoan (Holding Ashes Close to the Heart) – which forms a triptych with A Glass Eye and Burning Bones. It won the 2021 Spanish National Poetry Award. She's a member of the Basque Academy of Letters.

Amaia Gabantxo is a writer, singer and literary translator specialising in Basque literature – a pioneer in the field and its most prolific contributor. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Words Without Borders, The New Engagement, The Massachusetts Review and The TLS, among others. She has worked in backpackers' hostels and taught at the University of East Anglia, the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She's also a freediver. www.amaiagabantxo.com