Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Dia das letras galegas

May 10, 2019

Next Friday (17.5.) will be the Galician Literature Day (Dia das letras galegas), which honours a different (safely deceased) Galician writer each year.  This year’s laureate is Antonio Fraguas Fraguas (yes he does have a Wikipedia page in English! not all past laureates do).

There will be two related events around here:

Wed 15.5., 17:15 – 18:30h  Galician Literature talk with Alba Cid, the current lecturer of Galician at the Galician Studies Centre at Oxford. Happening at Room 2, Taylor Institution Library, St. Giles.  Free, but booking required.

18.5., 13-19h. Dia das letras galegas celebrations in London. Facebook event page. Yaa Centre -1 Chippenham Mews, London W9 2AN.



La Hermandad de los Celtas

October 27, 2018

I’m now reading Carlos’s book on Celtic music which is very interesting and beautifully written, if maybe a bit unscientific (no references, no index, a lot of fangirling for actual academics). Watch this space for a review when I’m through. in the meantime, you can read the first chapter online.



Día das letras Galegas

May 17, 2018

The annual day of Galician Literature is happening today. Read all about it in Wikipedia or check the twitter hashtag.   The Oxford Centre for Galician Studies ran a lovely little workshop, managing to coax the Centre’s founder, John Rutherford, out of his retirement to discuss a modern sonnet inspired by Petrarch (the second one on this page).

Also on twitter, there is a lovely hashtag: #euleoengalego, for which I took a selfie, below. And local celebrations continue tonight with the pandeireteiras …


UPDATE (24.5.): I’ve now finished this one, see my review here.



Hora zulú

March 30, 2018

Volume 4 in my nascent Galician library (kindly provided by the author):

Hora zulú
by Santiago Lopo
Editorial Galaxia 2016 (in Galician)
Mar Maior 2016 (Spanish)

In January 2000, a man is washed up on the coast of Galicia and is referred to a psychiatric hospital, as he appears to have lost his memory. Known as “the professor”, he is going to spend the rest of his life there although we are increasingly suspecting that he isn’t quite as mad as we thought, and maybe he hasn’t lost his memory either.

After his death, Ana, who was one of the psychiatrists at the hospital at the time of his referral, pieces together the mysteries of the professor’s previous life from a set of five stories that he had written and hidden in different places. Ana reports the progress of her quest in emails to a former colleague and love interest, but we don’t know whether he ever reads her emails – she never refers to anything he might have said in reply, so it’s a strong possibility that the ex, now living in New York and married to somebody else, deletes her messages unread.

The novel intersperses these emails with the professor’s writings and the psychiatrists’ case notes to create a jigsaw puzzle that remains mysterious to the last. We begin to suspect that the mad professor may have been a sane man in a mad world, as becomes clear from the questionnaire he designs to test the sanity of his doctors. He is thinking about the mysteries of time in a quest to stop the man-made destruction of the environment. (Hora Zulú (Zulu Time), by the way, which occurs at the end of each of his texts, is just a navy / aviation code for Greenwich Mean Time.)

Meanwhile, Ana has her own problem with time. She wants to wind back the clock to be back with her ex (or was he just an almost lover?). As the personality of the patient is gradually beginning to make more sense, that of the psychiatrist is becoming a shade crazier, although her voice, emailing into the void with the mixture of exciting discoveries and the mourning for lost love, (to me) really was the main attraction of the book. I’d happily read more of her emails any time.

The whole tackles some big questions, including:
* what is the nature of time, and can it be stopped or reversed? and:
* am I crazy or is the world around me going crazy? speaking of which:
* can dogs read our minds?
The answers, however, remain a mystery.




PS: while I was writing this review, I came across two time-twisting news items in Express News, a Spanish weekly published in London – spooky stuff:


News from the Middle Ages

February 19, 2018

In the rapidly growing series about the exciting things that Oxford folkies do when they are not folking around, here’s a new book from Jane, who plays the harp at the Galician sessions (and also in other sessions and with the band Skeleton Crew). It’s an anthology of texts written in the medieval French used in the British Isles post 1066 (here referred to as Anglo-Norman, which confused me at first, but it is definitely French). The texts look reasonably accessible at first glance, but there are also translations and eplanations provided, so this could be fun:

An Anglo-Norman Reader

Jane Bliss

Open Book publishing, 2018

Order info and free PDF download.




Global sounds

February 3, 2018

I have an essay from 2009 by Jose Calmeiro about how Galician culture emerged from its peripheral position to become a global phenomenon – looking for an online version of this I discovered that the author now has a whole book out on the topic:

Peripheral visions / global sounds: From Galicia to the world. Liverpool University Press 2017.

The last chapter is called: ‘Bagpipes, Bouzoukis and Bodhráns: The Reinvention of Galician Folk Music’ – that sounds promising (an earlier version of this chapter was also published in A Companion to Galician Culture in 2014).

I’ll see if I can get hold of a copy (it’s quite expensive, so I’ll try the libraries first).

A lengthy review is here.


Galician audio/visual culture has experienced an unprecedented period of growth following the process of political and cultural devolution in post-Franco Spain. This creative explosion has occurred in a productive dialogue with global currents and with considerable projection beyond the geopolitical boundaries of the nation and the state, but these seismic changes are only beginning to be the subject of attention   of cultural and media studies. This book examines contemporary audio/visual production in Galicia as privileged channels through which modern Galician cultural identities have been imagined, constructed and consumed, both at home and abroad. The cultural redefinition of Galicia in the global age is explored through different media texts (popular music, cinema, video) which cross established boundaries and deterritorialise new border zones where tradition and modernity dissolve, generating creative tensions between the urban and the rural, the local and the global, the real and the imagined. The book aims for the deperipheralization and deterritorialization of the Galician cultural  map by overcoming long-established hegemonic exclusions, whether based on language, discipline, genre, gender, origins, or territorial demarcation, while aiming to disjoint the center/periphery dichotomy that has relegated Galician culture to the margins. In essence, it is an attempt to resituate Galicia and Galician studies out of the periphery and open them to the world.,jose-colmeiro-9781786940308

galician culture






A arte de trobar

January 6, 2018

The Galician music scene anno 1237.  I just finished this book and think I’ll have to read it again …

My review is here.


arte de trobar

Publisher’s blurb:

No século XIII, unha “troupe” de artistas itinerantes procedentes de Galicia percorre os reinos do Camiño de Santiago. É un momento de cambio político, cultural e lingüístico nunha Europa inmersa en cruentas loitas de poder. As persecucións relixiosas e as ansias expansionistas coinciden co auxe das cantigas galego-portuguesas e co declive da lírica provenzal. Un códice oculto, a Inquisición, a herexía cátara e os segredos da alquimia uniranse ás cantigas medievais para conformar unha engaiolante trama nunha novela con grandes doses de intriga.”A arte de trobar” é unha novela luminosa, escrita con felicidade e coñecemento, que non renuncia ao humor. Configurada a partir de capítulos curtos, é capaz de integrar unha trama implacable coa tradición máis notable de versos en galego e occitano. Documentada con rigor, e dotada dun ritmo moi áxil, “A arte de trobar” constitúe un vibrante fresco desta nosa historia, que se escribiu en folla de pergamiño e con pluma de ave, á beira do mar.



December 10, 2017

book delivery arrived yesterday – have already finished the little book which is aimed at young readers and very easy. Might be suitable for the Galician Studies Centre to throw at their students. Now for the bigger one, a new historic novel about the time of the troubadours …


btw, it amuses me every time that Amazon Spain lists Galician books under “foreign languages”. Looks like they didn’t get the memo about Spain’s co-official languages …