Mariasun Landa was awarded the 2011 Dabilen Elea: “This award is also in recognition of children’s literature”
The writer Mariasun Landa was awarded this year’s Dabilen Elea prize, in honor of her prolific literary career. Landa insists that the award is also recognition of children’s literature written in Basque; “something that would have been unthinkable thirty years ago,” she added. That is when Landa began to write children’s books, since her students didn’t have anything that to read in Basque, as she explained to EuskalKultura.com. Along the way she discovered the beauty of the genre; just as thousands of readers have around the world since more than 30 of her works have been translated into Catalan, Spanish, Galician, English, French, Russian, Breton, Albanian, Arabic, German, Greek and even Korean.
Donostia-San Sebastian. The writer Mariasun Landa (Errenteria, 1949) has been awarded this year’s Dabilen Elea, a prize granted by five entities of the Basque literary and publishing world: Euskal Editoreen Elkartea (Association of publishers in the Basque language), Euskal Idazleen Elkartea (Association of writers in the Basque language), EIZIE (Association of translators, Correctors and interpreters of the Basque language), Galtzagorri (Association of Basque children's and youth literature) and APIE-EIEP (Professional Association of illustrators of Euskadi).
In the opinion of these entities Landa is a prolific writer, “renovator,” who has worked “tirelessly” to promote the habit of reading, she has been translated into many languages and has a great number of followers. Landa told EuskalKultura.com that she is “particularly pleased” by having received the award from these five entities, and that she is taking advantage of the media coverage to vindicate the category of children’s literature.
The beginning, a good idea
“When I write a book, my main problems are stylistic, narrative… how to balance fantasy and authenticity…,” the author explained. “The first thing you need is a good story, and then I try to write that idea the best way I can. It is during the second reading though when I start to think who it might be for, what age group it should be intended for.”
Writing in Basque was a choice – Landa began learning Basque when she was 23 – and it was life that brought her to write children’s stories. After graduating she began working in Paris as a teacher, and she realized that her students didn’t have anything to read in Basque. “I wanted to be a writer and so I started to write stories for them. Along the way I discovered the real beauty of children’s literature and I noticed, almost without realizing it, that I was good at writing this kind of literature,” she added.
The crocodile in Moscow
Landa has had a very prolific and recognized career that has gathered a large group of readers, of a breadth that is rarely seen in Basque literature. This is because her works, always written in Basque, have been translated into a number of languages: Spanish, Catalan, Galician, English, French, Breton, German, Russian, Arabic, Greek, Albanian, and even Korean. “Twenty five years ago Txan Fantasma (Txan the Little Ghost) already published in Basque and Catalan, and the work that that I have done since is what opened the doors for me, little by little.” The National Award winner of 2001 said.
Her work is tireless, and every year she publishes something new, or one of her books is translated into another language. Last June, for example, Landa was in Moscow presenting the Russian translation of Krokodiloa ohe azpian (The Crocodile under the Bed); and not long ago her book Galtzerdi suizida (The Sock who Committed Suicide) was published in Breton. The children’s literature that nobody took seriously thirty years ago, according to Landa, continues to open new doors for Basque literature.
-Complete Bibliography of Mariasun Landa on her website
Mariasun Landa last June at the International Book Fair in Moscow, where she presented the Russian edition of Krokodiloa ohe azpian (photo MLanda)